GETTING TO KNOW ARNEIS, GREAT WHITE WINE GRAPE OF ROERO
Let’s continue our studies of Marcarini wines. Today we are going to talk about Arneis, the great white wine grape of the Roero, the hilly area that extends to the left of the river Tanaro.
Take a look at the map of the Langhe. You will discover something strange. While to the South the slopes rise up to become the Ligurian Appenines, to the North, on the route that links Bra, Alba and San Damiano d’Asti the plain scooped out of the Tanaro separates them from another set of hills that, lower in height, ends on the plain of Turin. This area, bounded by the north eastern edge of Cuneo, is the Roero.
Characterised by rugged green hills, the Roero is quite different from the neighbouring Langhe: gardens, woods of broad-leaved and chestnut trees, orchards, little ponds and, above all, the Rocche, deep ravines which suddenly break up the landscape, creating rocky bastions and canyons descending hundreds of metres, immediately evident because they expose the innermost part of the hill: yellow from the sandstone that is a characteristic of the soil.
Ah, the soil. Although it borders the Langhe and is a geological extension of that area, the Roero has developed its own terrains. In general, four zones can be identified:
- The Tanaro basin, the oldest, with soils from the Miocene era, dating from about 11 million years ago and characterised by the Marne di Sant’Agata, fairly similar to those of Le Langhe.
- The central area of the Roero, consisting of the area between the Tanaro basin and the Rocche, and belonging to the Pliocene period, between 6 and 2 million years ago. By far the most densely cultivated with vines, it has sandy, chalky clay soil. As it was once a coastal area, it is rich in fossils.
- The strip of the Rocche (which splits the Roero from South West to North East at altitudes of about 350 metres. The soil is low in chalk and high in sand, which makes up about 80% of the soil content, originating from lakes – fluvial, loose and very light.
- The plains, to the North of the Rocche in the direction of Turin, suited to the cultivation of cereal crops, with reddish clay soil, rich in iron.
In summary, the soils of the Roero differ from those of Langa because they are younger and contain considerable amounts of fine sand and chalky deposits mixed with clay, a peculiarity that gives the wines produced here, in particular the Roero DOCG (red wine from nebbiolo grapes) and Roero Arneis (from white Arneis grapes) a fresh mineral taste with textures that are not too complex.
ROERO ARNEIS MARCARINI
A DEVOTED MUNICIPALITY
Our Arneis comes from the municipality of Montaldo Roero, 15 kilometres from Alba, to the North West. Montaldo is located on the strip of the Rocche and is an area very much devoted to the production of white wines: of the 50 hectares that are cultivated, almost half are planted with arneis for the production of Roero Arneis DOCG.
THE ROERO BRANCH OF THE MARCARINI
Our land in Roero was acquired in 2006 from a cousin. The family of our maternal grandmother, heir of the Marcarini, came in fact from Montaldo. Before producing wine from the grapes, we worked for a long time to re-group the vines into one sector, as they had previously been divided out into parcels of land with different owners. Now our plot extends over two hectares of one of the most famous areas of Montaldo, facing directly South.
ONLY THE MOST NOBLE PART
The grapes are pressed and immediately separated from the skins in order to prevent the formation of strong vegetable aromas. The must that is thus obtained is pressed 4 times, very delicately. From these four pressings, however, only the first is used for wine, in order to maintain only the most ‘noble’ part. This process decreases the yield of the grapes in a consistent manner. Whereas on average a kilo of grapes yields 0.7 litre of wine, in our Arneis the yield is decreased to about 0.58 litre!
Arneis Marcarini is fermented in steel barrels at a controlled temperature of about 16°C. This cold fermentation is very long and delicate, lasts about two months and contributes to the extraction of the aromas that distinguish it: floral (acacia and white flowers), fresh fruit and honey.
ALMOST A RED WINE
Arneis has an excellent body and structure, peculiarities that make it similar to a red wine. Our work in the winery consists of balancing its natural complexity, emphasising the fresh notes and easy drinking appeal.