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A classy Italian white, and ‘low carb’ wine

Deitch: Roero Arneis can be hard to find but worth the search
/ Source: msnbc.com

For some time, I’ve wanted to write about Italy’s Roero Arneis but hadn’t found an example of this appealing, under-appreciated white wine that had both a decent price and decent availability. It seems that just about all of them have fairly limited production, so even though I’m going to mention one of them here, the larger point is that Roero Arneis — whatever example you find — is well worth trying.

The one that I enjoyed recently is the 2002 Roero Arneis from Tomaso Gianolio. It’s a classy wine and, at $10 discounted, almost a steal. (Okay, the importer tells me it usually sells for $13, but even then it’s still a good buy.)

Now, just what is Roero Arneis? In reverse order, Arneis is the grape and Roero is the zone in the Piedmont region of northern Italy where it is grown. Piedmont, of course, is famous for its reds — Barolos, Barbarescos, Barberas and Dolcettos. The whites have minor status, with the Gavis from the Cortese grape probably the most familiar.

But I have been seeing Roero Arneis more often, a reflection, perhaps, of the increasing yet still relatively limited vineyard area devoted to the grape. As for the Gianolio, it reminded me of spring. The aromas are floral and fruity. While grapefruit is often mentioned when describing the tastes of Roero Arneis, this one has unusual and seductive notes of strawberry, along with citrus, a touch of vanilla and lingering minerals. Medium bodied and full of flavor, it is a delightful wine to sip on its own and will go well with any number of lighter foods.

With limited production, a couple of shortcuts might be useful. I bought the wine at Garnet Wines & Liquors in New York and the importer is Signature Selections USA at 201-784-6800.

Of note
I suppose it was only a matter of time before the wine industry got swept into the “low carb” craze as a marketing tool. Now really, is anyone who is seriously interested in exploring good wine going to start paying attention to the percentage of carbohydrates in a glass? I think not. Yet here comes the inevitable press release, in this case from Diagio Chateau & Estates Wines, announcing that three of its California lines, BV Coastal Estates, Sterling Vintners Collection and Century Cellars “all meet the definition of a "low carb" alcohol beverage as recently established by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.”

In case you’re wondering what officially qualifies as “low carb” in wine, it is no more than seven grams of carbohydrates per five-ounce serving. While Diagio provides the standard comment in its announcement that people “who choose to drink should do so responsibly and in moderation,” I wanted to see how the Bureau itself was casting all of this. In a press release on its Web site it notes, among other things, that, “unlike most low-calorie and low-carbohydrate foods, alcohol beverages are dangerous when consumed in excess.” You can read more about this on the site at www.ttb.gov/alcohol.

Edward Deitch's wine column appears Thursdays. Write to him at .