Danny Meyer’s Nearest and Dearest
It’s one of Italy’s most treasured whites and far and away the greatest of Piemonte. We first discovered Domenico Almondo’s Arneis in La Morra. Today, we can’t help but start with Almondo Arneis every time we sit down at Del Posto, or at Danny Meyer’s new Union Square Cafe (one of his “nearest and dearest” wines) in New York. The sheer electric vibrancy of the 2016 “Sparse” is enough to understand why so many Barolo-makers exchange priceless single vineyard bottles for Almondo Arneis.
For years, the Almondo brothers’ exquisitely mineral Arneis has been among the most sought-after whites of Piedmont. But this 2016 “Vigne Sparse” ranks among our favorite under-$20 European whites of the year.
The Almondo family’s estate in Piedmont is less than 20 miles from Barolo, but the climate, soils, and expositions couldn’t be more different. The key to their standard-setting Arneis is the terroir’s preservation of natural acidity. While the deeper soils of Barolo measure 9 in pH, on the sandy soils of Roero the pH is just 5.5. The climate is more arid than Langhe, but the north-facing slopes are steadily refreshed by the cool winds of the Alps.
That combination of low pH, sandy soils, high elevation, cooler north-facing plantings, and those brisk gusts from the Alps proved perfect for producing Piedmont’s star white, leading to one of the most precious white grape vineyards in Italy.
As pairings for Italian cuisine go, just ask the sommeliers at Union Square Cafe and Del Posto — you can’t top the Almondos’ Arneis, Northern Italy’s otherworldly white.