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Roero Docg: “The future is painted in white thanks to Arneis”

10 years have passed since the birth of the Roero Protection Consortium. And at the beginning of 2024, the time has come to take stock of the past 12 months, but above all of the future prospects of those who have now established themselves as one of the most dynamic protagonists of Italian wine, in particular thanks to the success of its shade in white. A healthy Denomination, which also celebrates the first 20 years since obtaining the DOCG certification, with a Consortium that currently has 258 members. The total surface area is over 1,300 hectares, of which 965 are planted with Arneis for the Roero Bianco and 335 are planted with Nebbiolo for the Roero Rosso. The annual production is approximately 7.5 million bottles, 90% of Roero Bianco Docg and 10% of Roero Rosso Docg. Of these, over 60% cross the Italian borders taking the road that actually takes them anywhere in the world. The Roero Protection Consortium is today chaired by Massimo Damonte, elected in July 2023, after three mandates of Francesco Monchiero. And who better than the number one of the Docg, who has been part of the Consortium’s Board of Directors since its foundation and has been vice-president since 2020, can draw a snapshot of the future of a land that tells much more than its wines.

2023 was undoubtedly the year of white wines, does the Roero Docg also confirm this?

All Italian white wines are actually experiencing a good moment, given that consumers seem increasingly interested in fresh, fragrant types without particular hardness in the mouth.

Roero Bianco Docg fits very well into this trend, because in recent years it is proving to have its own distinctive character and personality – especially in the aromas, therefore both when you bring the wine to your nose and when you have swallowed the sip – which they take it away from the simplicity and immediacy of other, even rather famous and widespread, typologies.

The credit goes to both the grapes and the winemaking methods, which tend to eliminate the simple and obvious bon bon aromas and let the – albeit delicate – facet of Arneis emerge.

The production of Roero Bianco Docg for 2023 stood at 6,551,000 bottles, down 10% compared to 2022. However, an annual production increase of 7% is expected for the next three years in consideration of the entry into production of the 30 hectares that the Consortium allows to plant every year to producers who request it. This is to allow organic growth of the Denomination, meeting the growing market demand and always maintaining the quality of the product very high, to allow both grape producers and bottlers protection in terms of sales prices.

Roero Bianco Docg: “The future is painted in white wine thanks to Arneis”. First 20 years since obtaining the DOCG certification.

What makes Roero Bianco Docg truly unique?

Roero Bianco often recalls elements of exotic fruit and spices typical of the vine. It therefore goes beyond the simple florality so widespread among white wines and offers more complex fruity notes, always within a framework of notable freshness, between grapefruit, sage and tomato leaf.

There is no shortage of hints of almond and lime, useful to avoid excessively acidic notes, to give complexity and above all harmony.

As often happens in other whites, not just Piedmontese, maturation in the bottle for a few years adds what are today defined as “mineral scents”, with delicately growing flint and hydrocarbons.

How have the last few years gone for the Denomination?

For the Roero, 2023 saw a reduction in production, due to the two particularly dry years which, combined with a general average rise in temperatures and storm episodes with hailstorms of exceptional intensity, led the vine plants to suffer shocks quite frequently water.

As regards Roero Docg, 2021 was the year in which marketing had double-digit increases compared to 2019. Extremely positive numbers, also reiterated for 2022, both for Roero Docg Bianco made from Arneis grapes and for the Roero Docg Rosso based on Nebbiolo, and which are also confirmed in exports.

Although it is not very easy to have precise data on exports, because – as for all Piedmontese wines – Roero does not have a customs code that identifies only the production of the Denomination and this information is therefore processed thanks to the collaboration of the companies, the share of exported product stands at 50% and the reference countries are Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Holland, but also Canada, Japan and the US.

Roero Bianco Docg: “The future is painted in white wine thanks to Arneis”. First 20 years since obtaining the DOCG certification.

You spoke of two difficult years from a production point of view: but how do you combat these extreme events that are often the result of climate change?

It is up to the attention and experience of the producers to safeguard the most exposed vineyards as much as possible. One of the peculiar characteristics of the Roero soils is, in fact, the very high presence of sand which, in addition to giving characteristics of extreme elegance and softness to the wines produced here, makes them more subject to water drainage. A factor which, in years like the last few, can lead to drops in production that can range from -5% to -30% depending on the area.