Arneis is a grape that I was completely unfamiliar with until this single varietal from the Willamette Valley showed up on my doorstop courtesy of one of my favorite wine clubs.
Arneis means “little rascal” in the Northern Italian dialect of Piedmontese, and gets its name due to having a reputation as being hard to grow. It is typically used in blends, often with reds in the manner that Viognier is sometimes used in France. However, it makes a pretty tasty wine on its own.
Ponzi Vineyards is one of only a few growers in the United States growing Arneis, and the only one in Oregon. Having only had their version of this varietal, I can not say whether this is a representative wine from this grape, but I can say that I enjoyed it.
The nose is crisp and smells of ripe pears, peaches and apricots. Those aromas are mirrored in the taste but are joined by bright floral notes and toast. This wine has some residual sugar and would make a nice aperitif. It would not seem to be a natural match with a lot of foods, but I think it would make an excellent wine served with smoked meats or spicy Tex-Mex food.