Cornarea, Roero Arneis
Cornarea, Roero Arneis

Cornarea, Roero Arneis

Piedmont, Italy 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$34.00
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Cornarea, Roero Arneis

Roero Arneis is springtime in a bottle: bursting with bright floral aromas and morning-dew freshness, it’s a perfect choice for right now. But Cornarea does you one better, delivering not just affordable refreshment but refinement and structure, too. As I’ve noted in past offers, not many Italian whites make their way into the Daily Offer rotation, given that they’re typically being evaluated next to heavy-hitter whites from Burgundy, Loire, Austria, Germany, and elsewhere. But if you’re still looking past indigenous Italian whites en route to yet another bottle of Chardonnay, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc, you’re missing out.

This specialty of the Roero DOCG, just north of Barolo, already has more name recognition than most of Italy’s countless native whites, but taste Cornarea’s 2020 and Arneis will be imprinted in your taste memory permanently. Organically farmed and thrumming with energy, it is a next-level expression of this historic variety and a remarkable value to boot. Load up the refrigerator with this and you’re well-equipped for anything the season throws at you!

It’s not just the Arneis grape you need to embrace, and remember. It’s the place in which this native variety thrives: Roero. Although Roero is situated just north of Barolo and boasts DOCG appellation status, it remains tragically under-explored.  Roero’s reds from Nebbiolo are legitimate rivals to those of Barolo/Barbaresco, and in the past, Arneis was mostly valued for attracting birds that might otherwise have eaten the Nebbiolo. Arneis is one of the rare wine grapes that is also a pleasing table grape, producing lots of sweet juice, but that feature is also a bug if it’s not handled correctly. As author Ian d’Agata notes in his indispensable “Native Wine Grapes of Italy,” Arneis needs to be picked at exactly the right moment or its acidity drops dramatically. It’s an aromatic variety, with some exotic leanings, so when the acidity isn’t there it can feel flabby and sweet. It’s tempting to compare it to Viognier—although the two varieties could never be mistaken for the other, it’s interesting that the Roero appellation laws used to allow for a trace amount of Arneis to be blended with Nebbiolo to point up the red wines, à la Côte-Rôtie in the Rhône.

It’s worth noting that some of the biggest names in neighboring Barolo—Vietti, Giacosa, Brovia, and especially, Ceretto—have relied on whites from Arneis as cash cows. For Cornarea, a Roero-based estate dating to 1975, Arneis is more than that: It’s a fixation. The soils in Roero contain the sandy, fossil-rich sediments of an ancient seabed, and when Gian Piero Bovone planted 12 hectares to Arneis in 1975, he helped to revive the fortunes of a variety which, like so many indigenous Italian cultivars, was in danger of becoming extinct (the cooperative vine nursery in Alba continues to propagate scions of the “Cornarea Clone” of Arneis for newer plantings). Now boasting Arneis vineyards averaging 40 years of age, all of them cultivated organically, Cornarea can rightly be dubbed a standard-bearer of the variety.

Minerality, crystal-clear apple and pear fruit, and mouth-watering acidity are the hallmarks of this steel fermented-and-aged 2020—of which just 100 cases were imported to the US! 

In the glass, it’s a pale straw-gold moving to a silvery rim, with bright aromas of white peach, chamomile, green pear, wildflower honey, and chopped raw hazelnuts. Medium-bodied and full of freshness and nerve, it’s a perfect white to drink now with sushi or crudo, first-course salads, or as an apéritif. Simply pull the cork about 15 minutes before serving in all-purpose stems and pair it with a ceviche loaded with aromatic herbs and lime juice. They’ll make beautiful music together. Enjoy!

Cornarea, Roero Arneis
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Italy

Northwestern Italy

Piedmont

Italy’s Piedmont region is really a wine “nation”unto itself, producing world-class renditions of every type of wine imaginable: red, white, sparkling, sweet...you name it! However, many wine lovers fixate on the region’s most famous appellations—Barolo and Barbaresco—and the inimitable native red that powers these wines:Nebbiolo.

Tuscany

Chianti

The area known as “Chianti” covers a major chunk of Central Tuscany, from Pisa to Florence to Siena to Arezzo—and beyond. Any wine with “Chianti” in its name is going to contain somewhere between 70% to 100% Sangiovese, and there are eight geographically specific sub-regions under the broader Chianti umbrella.

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