What Is Freisa Wine From Langhe?
Freisa is a close relative of Nebbiolo, a more wild kin. It is an ancient variety found in the Piedmont region of Italy’s northwest, particularly around the Langhe area.
Since the 16th century, Freisa was popular amongst monks and farmers, because it was productive and disease-resistant. Up until the 19th century, Freisa occupied up to half of all acreage in Asti and Alessandria. Farmers especially favoured Freisa for its vigour and rusticity. However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, plantings of Freisa was eclipsed by the more popular Barbera and Dolcetto. Nowadays, it’s found in less than 5% of plantings across the Piedmont region, but it’s making a comeback due to its versatility.
Similar to Nebbiolo, Freisa produces wine with high tannins and mouth-watering acidity. Freisa in Latin means strawberry, and the wine exhibits aromas of its namesake. The aromas and flavours are vivacious – it tastes a little sweet, a little sour, and has a slightly bitter finish that is surprisingly complex.
Freisa can be made into an array of styles – from dry to sweet, still to frizzante. But what draws wine lovers to it is the swirl of fresh strawberry and red cherry aromas, mixed with spice and earth.
Freisa is found almost exclusively in Piedmont, and even there it only appears in a few appellations – the most common are Langhe Freisa DOC and Freisa d’Asti DOC.
- Langhe Freisa DOC – As the name suggests, this version is produced in the Langhe and Roero Hills region. Langhe Freisa DOC needs to have a minimum of 85% of the grape to be labelled as such. These versions of Freisa are a superb expression of this grape as a fine wine. The Langhe Freisa DOC tends to be more dry and still, with delicious aromas of berries and frankincense.
- Freisa d’Asti DOC – This version is produced in the Asti province, around the hills of Monferrato Astigiano. This is Freisa’s spiritual home, where the locals appreciate it most. The styles can vary from dry to medium-sweet, and can be still, frizzante (gently fizzing) or spumante (tightly frothing). Off-dry frizzante is the most traditional version, but still versions of Freisa d’Asti are increasingly popular. Rosso, Superiore and Spumante wines are made of 100% Freisa.
Why We Love Langhe Freisa Wine
We love the structure and elegance of Langhe Freisa wine. On the nose, it has fruity tones of raspberry and strawberry, and of fresh flowers. Similar to Nebbiolo, Freisa is a wine with high acidity and tannins. The aging process balances the acidity and tannins. As they age, they take on notes of earth and spices.
A particularly elegant example of Langhe Freisa is made by fourth-generation winemaker Brezza. Their Freisa is sourced from an organic vineyard in Barolo, and is still made in the traditional manner – six days of fermenting and macerating with the skins on, followed by more malolactic fermentation. This wine is usually released the spring following the harvest, without any aging in oak. The acidity and tannins hit you and then give way to aromas of strawberries, cherries, fennel and incense. This wine is best enjoyed young, but can also be aged for 3-4 years.
Another small producer is Burlotto, whose Langhe Freisa smells of liquorice, spice and plums. Underneath the fruity core is a layer of earthiness that adds a wildly delicious complexity.
Langhe Freisa wines have a flavour profile that makes it extremely versatile for the modern palate. Pair it with hearty food to really bring out the flavours. As a favourite of the Piedmont locals, it is classically paired with dishes of the region like braised short ribs or agnolotti del plin. It’s also absolutely delicious with lamb, osso bucco, or venison ragu. Its versatility makes it equally fantastic with a curry or Peking duck, or anything else with some fat and oil.
Remember to give Freisa some time to air and really open up, and you’ll be richly rewarded. Best served at around 16-18 degrees Celsius.
Try Langhe Freisa Wine At Your Next Dinner Party
We have searched far and wide for the best artisan Freisa producers, so that you can experience the rich history and geography of the Italian Piedmont in a glass of red. Enjoy a bottle for a special occasion, or a guilt-free midweek glass. Host a dinner party and get your friends excited about trying a new wine!
If you love Nebbiolo but want to try something a little different, give Langhe Freisa a try. You won’t be disappointed! As a bonus, compared to more well-known wines from the Piedmont, Langhe Freisa is much more affordable.
Our suppliers are Australia’s best, hands on importers who specialise in high quality wines of place. As lovers of Nebbiolo and fine Alpine influenced wines, we support small-scale producers who continue to uphold traditional wine making. We love bringing you rare grape varieties from hidden forest vineyards and single hectare family producers.
We’re thrilled that you’re joining us on the journey so get your hands on some amazing Langhe Freisa today! Cheers!