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The Freisa Grape


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About Freisa

(Synonyms: Freisa di Chieri, Freisa Piccola, Freisetta, Fresia, Monferrina, Mountrina, Spannia.)

Background

Map showing the Piedmont region of Italy.

Freisa is a centuries-old red-wine grape originating in the Piedmont region of Italy, which remains its primary home today and where there are several DOCs under its name (such as Freisa d’Asti).

Like Nebbiolo (a relative), Freisa typically produces wines quite light in color. They are normally quite acidic and tannic; their distinctive fragrance is of red fruit (strawberries and raspberries), plus they are said to have a tinge of bitterness (which Italians, at least, are known to like). As modern winemaking techniques have taken hold, makers have had better control over fermentation and residual sugars that help balance out that slight bitterness. Nonetheless, Freisa is olften described as a “polarizing” wine, meaning most people either love it or hate it, with few in-between opinions.

As one reviews the literature, it becomes clear that much of what is thought and written about Freisa derives from the days before the arrival of those modern winemaking techniques. Freisa was long thought of as being solely good for sparkling wines, in which the bitterness of “green” tannins had to be balanced off by a fair dose of residual sugars—thus, Freisa’s standing in the wine world was unjustly low. With modern techniques and a focus on monovarietal dry table-wine Freisas, it’s a whole new ballgame, and that “polarizing” nonsense, well, just that: nonsense. Today Freisa, though still sadly under-apprevciated and largely unknown in the U.S., is an excellent wine. Indeed, as it ages—and it can age quite well for long periods, a decade or more—it becomes more and more like a specimen of its famous relative, Nebbiolo.

(When you read discussions of Freisa wines, including those we quote farther below, try to determine if the writers are referring to “old-style” Freisa, usually a slightly sparkling rendition, or the new, modern, dry-table-wine style. It matters a lot.)

Freisa grapes are of two sorts:

Factoid: Freisa is closely related to both Nebbiolo and Viognier.

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Some Descriptions of Freisa Wines

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Some Freisas to Try

(About this list.)

There are quite a few Freisa wines available in the U.S., but owing to its status as a little-known type, almost none of them are carried by more than one or perhaps two retailers (of those that show up on wine search engines); further, not many Freisa wines have any posted critical reviews. Here is all we could find, and even it is on the very edge of our price and availability limits.

If you see a bottle of any Freisa at retail, it is probably worth giving it a shot, but do try to first assure that it is indeed a dry table-wine rendition. As noted in the quotations above, look for the word Secco (dry) on the label (and shun the word Amabile, which indicates sweetness).


Burlotto Freisa
(Langhe Freisa.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We could find no reasonably available Freisa wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.