Our tasting impressions
I find myself saying this frequently about Ugo’s wines but I can’t recall tasting a finer Arneis. The wine is more aromatically expressive and has better acidity than others of this variety. An impressive mouthfeel enhances the melange of mineral, fruit salad and floral flavors.
I have no experience aging Arneis. This seems to have some requisite attributes to evolve. But, why? It’s so enjoyable now.
About this wine
100% Arneis from the Guarene commune. Yields are 60-70 hl/ha. The grapes are gently pressed then fermented in steel tanks at a temperature of 64°F. It is released no sooner than 3 months after bottling.
This could be labeled Roero instead of Langhe. About 7,000 bottles are produced.
About the grape
Arneis is just recently rediscovered as of the 80’s. Previously it was almost extinct. What little was being grown was used for sweet wine, for blending or worse, planted to attract birds and pests away from more prized Nebbiolo vines. Not easy being a white wine grape in a land of valuable red wine grapes.
It is a challenging, low-yielding crop susceptible to mildew, disease and oxidation. The grape is closely tied to Roero, which 70,000 years ago was underwater, so, like Chablis, the soil is comprised of lots of marine fossils mixed into sand and limestone.
Arneis is sweet, savory, briny, minerally, very floral and low in acidity. It’s rather full-bodied and creamy. You have to love the name, which translates to little rascal, even if it refers to how difficult it is to cultivate.
About the vintage
A combination of drought and frost substantially knocked down yields in 2017. So, while production levels were reduced, as is often the case, skilled producers are able to craft wines of great concentration.
On your table
Pasta in a tomato cream sauce will complement the body and brightness of this wine. Enjoy at about 50°.
Ugo Lequio started his winery in 1981 despite not owning any vines. He lived in view of Gallina, one of the great vineyards in Neive producing Barbaresco. He had to persuade a vineyard owner to sell grapes to him. The Marcarinis had much of the most cherished plot known as Cascina Nuova. He was able to purchase Barbera from them initially and after many years he succeeded in acquiring their prized Nebbiolo, which had previously gone to Bruno Giacosa, one of the legends of Langhe wines in Piedmont. The vineyard has optimal exposure, altitude and soil composition.
Ugo does almost everything himself including oversight of vineyard management. His grape selection is painstaking and his winemaking very traditional. He ages his wines longer than the regulations stipulate and does nothing to alter the natural alcohol levels. Amazingly, the wines have great balance and display no heat even if the ABV is higher.
This is a true artisan, crafting incredible wines. We tasted an Arneis that had barely begun fermentation (it looked like a cloudy unfiltered beer) yet it had unbelievable delineation and balance. Ugo is his own man, a rightfully proud man who is so deeply devoted to making extraordinary wine.