2010 Rutherglen Estates Single Vineyard Arneis

Who said you couldn't drink Arneis during the cold winter months or any other white wine for that matter? We all need refreshing drinks but do we need to drink warming reds during this time? Matching this particular example from northern Victoria with either Italian fare or seafood dishes could be a pleasurable experience and a great alternative to the usual white wine suspects that pair well with these types of food.

The first Italian grape variety in the Rutherglen Estates portfolio and their fourth vintage according to the website, Arneis is the premium white wine from Piedmonte, also known under the synonym 'white Barolo' for its use in softening the aggressive tannic structure of Nebbiolo. Indeed, Arneis is the sibling white grape to the  red 'king' Nebbiolo and thrives in the chalky, sandy soils of its home in the Roero province of north-weestern Italy's Piedmonte region where it produces fragrant, harmoniously balanced wines of richness and freshness.

It's name in the old Langhe-Piedmont dialect translates as 'whimsical', 'stubborn' or 'little rascal', a reference to its capricious nature in the vineyard. Susceptible to poor yields, powdery mildew, low acidity, late ripening and easy oxidisation, this was a recipe for disaster even before the grape had been made into wine. To complicate matters further, in addition to a slew of regulatory factors impacting its growth and development as a varietal in Italy, Arneis came close to varietal extinction during the mid-twentieth century before dry white wines gained increasing popularity in the 1980's.

This is a refreshing, crisp dry white wine that doesn't really challenge the nose in terms of aromatics. It came across on the palate as light and citrusy, slightly herbaceous with the merest hint of pear and almond, some of the characteristics in its varietal flavour profile. But unfortunately, that was about it.

A good introduction to this variety, perhaps an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc for those looking for something a little different, but to me it was one dimensional and lacking in complexity or aromatics. I will look forward to reviewing other examples of this increasingly popular variety. 

Source: Winery Purchase. Rating: 82 Points. Website: www.rutherglenestates.com.au

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