Piedmont’s Gavi and Arneis wines remain in the shadow of the region’s mighty reds, but their star continues to rise in the world of white wines. We take a look at some of the best
Piedmont is a region renowned for its bold red wines. Most wine lovers will have heard of its big players: Barolo, of course, Barbaresco, Barbera and, latterly, Dolcetto. But what of the whites? Well, there are some excellent options deserving of our attention. There’s Gavi, a wine made using Cortese grapes grown around the town of the same name. And Gavi di Gavi, which is grown just outside the designated Gavi zone – you’ll find three top wines here too.
The Arneis grape variety has also been grown in Piedmont for hundreds of years, mainly in the Roero hills northwest of Alba, and also in the hills surrounding the villages of Le Langhe. It’s a difficult grape to grow: it can lack acidity, it’s very fussy when it comes to soil types, and it becomes over-ripe easily – no wonder the word Arneis translates in Piedmontese dialect as ‘little rascal’.
So next time you’re shopping for a decent bottle of white, don’t stick to the obvious choices. Ignore the Pinot Grigios, the Sauvignon Blancs and the Chablis, and go for a crisp Arneis or a Gavi instead…
Langhe Arneis DOC, Cristina Ascheri
From Great Western Wines
Giacomo Ascheri is one of the most respected producers in the Langhe. His Arneis is typically pale in colour, with a spicy, floral aroma; it’s light and refreshing on the palate, though there’s a honeyed melon and peach complexity in there to provide a fruity interest. The finish is nutty with a sublime minerality, making it hard to resist a second glass.
Gavi di Gavi, Bric Sassi, 2016, Roberto Sarotto
From Berry Bros & Rudd
Roberto Sarotto grows the Cortese grapes for this Gavi di Gavi wine on his 12 hectare Tenuta Manenti estate close to the town of Gavi. Here we have a wonderfully fresh white wine, lightly perfumed, with elderflower and tropical fruit leading to a distinctive Cortese flavour of ripe pears, a hint of citrus as well an appealing flinty minerality on the palate. It’s quite a layered wine, which makes it an interesting proposition when matching with food.
Roero Arneis ‘San Michele’ 2016, Deltetto
Arneis loves the sandy soil of the Roero region – it’s what imparts much of the aroma of the fruit, which a fine wine producer can go on to capture. The Deltetto family has been growing Arneis since 1977 and this single-vineyard wine smells so enticing – it’s full of tropical fruit, crisp apples and apricots, with just a hint of vanilla. It tastes pretty delicious too: it’s very fresh, lively in the mouth and offers plenty of punchy minerality in a long finish.
Gavi Araldica 2016
From Majestic Wine
Price £8.99 (£7.99 for six)
Geographically speaking, Gavi isn’t far from Liguria, where this wine is a popular feature in the restaurants along the coast. Aged in steel tanks which give it a lemony freshness, this pale straw-coloured wine is zesty and fresh with aromas of citrus. This gives way to a firm body, slightly more tropical flavours and a clean minerality with an almond/pear drop finish. Refreshingly clean on the palate, with a long, mouthwatering acidity.
La Minaia Gavi di Gavi, Nicola Bergaglia, 2016
From Great Western Wine
Another wine with a subtle but delightful aroma of lemon and crisp apple, this complex Gavi di Gavi from Nicola Bergaglio is made using fairly old vines; most of them are around 40 years old. 100% Cortese, this wine is fermented in stainless steel and rested in the bottle. Apple and pear flavours abound, though the fruit is finely balanced by a refined acidity and the wine’s flinty mineral notes.
Waitrose Gavi DOCG, 2016
This great-value Gavi is from the new Waitrose Blueprint range, wines from around the world specially selected by their wine buyers – including a number from Italy, of course. Made from the classic Cortese grape, this elegant white has citrus, honeysuckle and peach on the nose, leading to gently fruity flavours on the palate, tempered by a crisp Cortese acidity and zesty finish with toasted almonds and great mineral length.