Piemontese White Wines
There are quite a few white grape varieties being cultivated in Piemonte, but because of the popularity of Nebbiolo, many of them almost became extinct! Several of the white grapes only survived because a handful of winemakers decided to keep cultivating them. Here are some of my favorite Piemontese white wines.
Arneis originates from Piemonte, and is most commonly found in the hills of Roero, although you can find it in other regions including Liguria, Sardinia, California and New Zealand. It has naturally low acidity and can easily get overripe. It’s also prone to powdery mildew. Arneis literally means “little rascal”, and it gets its namke because it’s very diffiult to cultuvate.
Back in the day, Arneis was used to soften the tannins and harshness of Nebbiolo grape in the wines of Barolo. And as winemakers begun focusing on 100% Nebbiolo wines, the Arneis almost became extinct. By the 1970’s, only two winemakers were making Arneis: Vietti and Bruno Giacosa. Thankfully, that has changed in the recent years, and today you can find many good bottles of Arneis.
“Nas-Cetta” or “Anascetta” is another white Piemontese variety. The story of Nascetta is similar to that of the Arneis. As the popularity of Nebbiolo grew, rows of Nascetta were ripped out in favor of Nebbiolo. Nascetta was only kept alive by a handful of winemakers, like Elvio Cogno and Le Strette.
The story goes something like this: In 1993, Elvio Cogno and Valter Fissorre opened a 1986 Nascetta with a journalist named Armando Gambera, and they discovered that the 7 year old Nascetta had help up very well in the bottle. This was a pivotable moment for the local grape variety of Novello, and in 1994 Elvio Cogno released his first “Anas-Cetta”. And the rest is history! In 2002, Nascetta officially became a DOC and in 2010 it got it’s own appellation “Nascetta del Comune di Novello”.
Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, France, but today you’ll find it in many corners of the world, including Piemonte. The grape itself is quite neutral, but is often associated with a variety of flavors derived from influences of oak and terroir. Chardonnay was often blended in with other grapes, like Favorita, but in Piemonte today it’s most common to find 100% Chardonnay.
Favorita means “the favorite one”, a Piemontese white grape variety grown primarily in Piemonte and is widely planted on the left bank of the Tanaro river. It has long been a popular table wine Related to Liguria grapes Pigato and Vermentino. Has been a popular table wine. Pear notes, ability to age shorter than Arneis. Tend to ripen late and maintain fair amount of acidity. Used to be blended with Nebbiolo to soften harsh tannins, just like the many other white grape vairieties. Straw yellow, dry white wine, slightly bitter aftertaste. Pair with fish, shellfish, sushi.
3 of my favorite Piemontese white wines
Vietti Roero Arneis 2020
Beautiful citrus aromas with hints of warmer yellow stone fruit. Very fruity in the mouth as well, with a hint of honey.
Le Strette Nas-cëtta 2019
Beautiful nose with hints of yellow stone fruit and apple. A distinct taste of honey in the mouth. Good acidity.
Diego Morra Langhe Chardonnay 2020
Yellow stone fruit and citrus aromas on the nose. Quite full bodied with good length.