Freisa | Red wine grape native to Italy. Though historically popular, today Freisa is unfashionable with wine drinkers prompting many growers to replant with other grape varieties. The name comes from the Latin fresia, meaning strawberry due to its strawberry-like aromas.

Family ties | Freisa is closely related to Nebbiolo and likely its offspring.

Where grown | Piedmont: Freisa d’Asti DOC. | Langhe DOC Freisa. | Piemonte DOC Freisa. Veneto: Also in Veneto.

Site selection | As Freisa is easy to grow, productive and disease-resistant, it has often been relegated to the poorest sites and forced to yield high quantities of unripe grapes. It is best on sandy sites in general, such as those around the city of Chieri producing wines that express remarkable and complex aromas.

Winemaking | Picking late helps the grape tannins to fully ripen and malic acid to drop.

Specific styles | Usually dry and still though sometimes sparkling. Some producers try to tame Freisa’s tannins by making the wine frizzante (lightly fizzy) using carbon dioxide (CO2) to neutralize the tannic mouthfeel. Others leave a bit of residual sugar.

Wines | Freisa is generally light and pale in colour. It is fairly rustic and can be very reductive at first. However, as it opens up, Freisa demonstrates strong scents of strawberries, and when very ripe, rose, tobacco and violet. On the palate, flavours of crisp strawberry and sour red cherry are supported by palate-cleansing acid and high tannins which lend ageability (though tannins can be bitter and hard).

Bibliography

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.102-3.