Freisa is an indigenous grape variety of the northwestern Italian region of the Piedmont. It is prevalent throughout the provinces of Asti, Alessandria and Cuneo, with its vineyards almost stretching into suburban Turin. Far from noble of complexity and the other quantifiable factors that dictate wine quality, Freisa is nevertheless a lightly pigmented red wine grape variety that serves a higher purpose than its constitution would suggest.
Indeed, Freisa offers a welcome, easy-drinking respite from the obdurate tannins and high acidity of the Piedmont's more esteemed and highly ageable red wine grape variety, Nebbiolo. This symbiosis appears organic given that Freisa has a parent-offspring relationship with Nebbiolo, according to DNA profiling at the University of California's Davis campus
Freisa's familial relationship with Nebbiolo means, however, that Freisa too boasts prickly acidity and coarse tannins when handled aggressively. Conversely, though, the diminutive perception of the variety means that it is largely made with gentle extraction techniques, and minimal if any barrel maturation. Exceptions are the experimental barrique-aged bottlings from producers including Vajra and Ascheri.
Freisa, thus, is largely a gulpable red, best served with a slight chill and drunk irreverently. It may be fermented dry, or rendered as a frothy wine from a secondary fermentation in tank, with a perceptible level of residual sugar to balance its inherent bitterness. Freisa may be a DOC wine in both dry and sweet (amabile) styles.