The Arneis grape is now probably the most popular white grape variety grown in the Langhe and Roero regions of the Piemonte. But this wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1970’s it was almost extinct and was generally only used to blend into the tougher Nebbiolo wines to soften them a little.
In the 1980’s, white wine was becoming more popular and so, following the lead of a couple of growers, Arneis enjoyed something of a renaissance which has lasted to this day. For me, the best Arneis wines come from the Roero region where the soils tend to be sandier and the acidity achieved by the growers balances the aromas and flavours better.
It can be grown in the Langhe and Alfieri hills but the quality of the Roero was officially recognised by the authorities when it was elevated to DOCG status back in 2006. Again this is a personal taste but I’m not fond of oaked Arneis, I much prefer the fresher more vibrant wines fermented in stainless steel.
In style, the best Arneis wines will have aromas and flavours of white and yellow fruits (peaches and apricots) with some floral notes too (acacia) together with hints of almonds and hazelnuts and all backed by mineral undertones and a bright, refreshing acidity.
Coniglio all’Arneis – Rabbit cooked in Arneis
1 rabbit, about 1.8 kilos in weight, jointed
1 onion, 1 carrot, 3 sage leaves, 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of rosemary 1 clove of garlic, all finely chopped.
3 good glasses of Arneis
1/2 litre chicken stock
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (you can use olive oil if you prefer)
salt to taste
Cook the rabbit in a frying pan, covered, turning it occasionally until it gives out its liquid. If this is farmed rabbit it may not give much out. This process is to eliminate any unpleasant aromas and flavours.
Throw away any liquid that the rabbit has given out after about 10 minutes, then add the chopped vegetables and herbs and gently saute with the rabbit until they become soft.
Then add salt to taste and the Arneis wine and continue to cook over a moderate heat for about 45 minutes, adding stock to keep the rabbit moist as you go.
Serve hot with fried potatoes and plenty of cool Arneis to drink.