The Almondo Family estate is one of the reference-point properties of Italy's Piedmont region. While they make a fabulous Nebbiolo, their reputation has been built on the back of the Arneis grape, long considered one of the finest white varieties in all of Italy. This is truly a beautiful bottle of white wine, and it's ideal as we move through spring and get into summer.
As Antonio Galloni of Vinous Media said, "The 2021 Roero Arneis Sparse is a very pretty wine." I'm not at all kidding when I tell you that the first note I wrote down after tasting this wine with importer Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports was PRETTY. It's that and a whole lot more, and this highly attractive white is a wonderful alternative to Pinot Grigio, un-oaked Chardonnay, or lighter-styled Viogniers.
2021 Giovanni Almondo Roero Arneis 'Vigne Sparse'
Beautiful, highly aromatic, and nuanced Italian white. - 92 points Yours Truly
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Selected and direct-imported by the intrepid Jay Murrie of Piedmont Wine Imports, this is another stellar find in authentic and traditionally-made Italian wine. While the Almondo Family has a deeply-rooted history in the region dating to the 14th century, their attitude towards winemaking is anything but antiquated. They embrace modern technology in the vineyard and the cellar, but they also have a firm respect for the traditions of Italy's Piemonte region.
Roero is a relatively small DOCG wine district located in the hills of the Piemonte, north of Barolo and west of Barbaresco. The area takes its name from the Roero family, powerful bankers who were extremely influential here in the Middle Ages. The area is best-known for its refreshing whites made from Arneis, a grape that is really beginning to catch on with American wine drinkers.
It is a requirement if you work at Table Wine that you must love Arneis :) Just kidding....kind of. In all seriousness, the Almondo's treat their Arneis with the same respect that a top producer in Burgundy treats their Premier and Grand Cru Chardonnay. According to Stefano Almondo, the “real” Roero is five villages, a tiny area typified by sandy soils. His hometown of Montá is in that small zone. His family’s certified-organic winery makes 80-90,000 bottles of Arneis per vintage, all from estate-grown fruit.
They keep the wines on the lees for as long as possible, making 8-9 bottlings per year, to ensure wine is sent out in the world at the perfect moment. Only stainless steel is used for the fermentation of the Arneis. It’s all done in small batches, and then blended to make a wines of balance, an articulate expression of terroir. The TLC and attention-to-quality is abundantly obvious from the first smell to the last sip in this one.
Quite overt and a bit fleshier and riper this vintage, this comes wafting out of the glass with beautiful notes of " peach, apricot, chamomile, spice and dried flowers," says Antonio Galloni, and my tasting notes were pretty much identical to his. It's hard to put into words how good this is, but I can tell you that it smells and tastes like a much more expensive wine, and I can only surmise that its low cost is due to the fact that Arneis isn't very well-known. Wines like this will change that situation.
My advice -- but now before this stuff gets discovered, and the price goes up. Chill a bottle of this, put together a little cheese board with an assortment of goat cheeses and a crusty baguette, post up on your front porch, and call me in the morning to thank me for turning you on to such a wonderful wine.
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