Freisa, the protagonist in this blend with an 80% share, is one of the most exciting grape varieties in Piedmont. As a close relative of Nebbiolo, it has very similar attributes - subtle aromas, robust acidity, plenty of tannin and immense ageing potential - but has one actually positive characteristic which, paradoxically, has proved to be detrimental to it over the centuries. Unlike Nebbiolo, it is extremely resilient and undemanding, grows on all kinds of terrain and gets by with little sun. Although this is at the expense of quality, it still produces at least decent wines. So it was planted where Nebbiolo no longer grew, forgetting that we were actually dealing with a potentially great variety.
According to "Native Wine Grapes of Italy", Ian d'Agata's bible on Italian grape varieties, it produces the best results in sandy, calcareous soils with a little clay - exactly the type of soil that Guido Zampaglione of the Tenuta Grillo offers it.
Guido picks the grapes late and at a time when acidity and tannin have already lost a little of their power and blends it them with a little Dolcetto, Barbera and Merlot (between 5 and 10% each).
As always, fermentation is spontaneous and without temperature-control. The time on the skins is around 40 days, the ageing time in barrels 24 months and the further ageing time in the bottle eight (sic) years.
Freisa derives from the Latin word fresia which simply means strawberry: anyone who has tasted Pecoranera will understand why. However, there are many more flavours to discover: Meat and leather, for example, withered roses, earth and undergrowth. It is juicy and powerful, pulsating and dynamic, compact and uncompromising, raw, wild and impetuous; a partisan wine - and this has not changed even after almost 10 years of ageing in barrels and bottles.