For those of you that know me, you know I’m a bit of wine geek when it comes to Italian grape varieties! The learning never ends, and it’s a bonus when I get to buy native Italian wine varietals then smile from ear to ear when I can hand sell them, and sing the praises of all these grapes that I love so dearly!
Let’s call a spade a spade shall we? 2020 has really…for lack of better word, sucked. It’s been a rollercoaster of lockdowns, then ups, then a few freedoms; for everything to just be restricted once again. Cheers to my friends in the Southern hemisphere who are moving into summer and (hopefully) much lightening up of restrictions and lockdowns. It’s been a challenge to say the least.
But everything can always be made better with bubbles right? I was never really a fan of the bubbly, but as I get older, I just can’t get enough of them! Any shape, size, grape, method; bring it on! Bubbles make ME happy, and I’m sure they make many others happy too! Christmas and New Years is certainly a time when the bubble buying and consumption increases, and I’m always content to write about them! Especially if it’s a bubbly made from a lesser know Italian variety!
Enter Freisa…a relative of the great nebbiolo, grown in Piemonte and ripens after nebbiolo. In fact, its a very close relative of the famous grape, perhaps a child of nebbiolo with another unknown parent. The name Freisa is derived from the latin fresia which means strawberry, and notes of strawberry are typically evident on any wine expression. Like nebbiolo, it is light in the glass with a perfume of strawberry and sour red cherry. For those who have tasted Freisa, you know what I’m talking about. It has a fragrance and freshness like no other and the high acidity and tannic edge is always useful when pairing foods that are in need of something palate cleansing!
I’m a big fan of family owned wineries. Given a choice, I will always sell them over any big brand. The Russo family of Monferrato is Crotin 1897. Started by their grandfather in 1897 (hence the name), it is now run by daughter Daniela and her three sons who work together to make wine from their native grapes; run an agroturismo, and a guest house where visitors can have a full experience of Piemontese food, wine and culture. There, you can have salami from their own pigs, bread and pasta from their own wheat, and jam and honey from their own fruit and hives–what they call “0 kilometre eating”. A “one stop shop” so to speak. You can find their wines made from Barbera, Freisa, Grignolino, Albarossa (one of the most successful crossings: Barbera x Chatus), and Bussanello (a white grape that is also a crossing: Riesling Italico x Furmint). They only make 2500 cases annually…of everything. Period. Lucky us, in this market, we have access to the Freisa, Grignolino, Barbera, Bussanello, Albarossa and the subject of this post: the Nautilus. It’s a sparkling Freisa (but for total authenticity, there is 20% Pinot Nero in the bottle). Because of Freisa’s natural high acidity, it’s a perfect candidate for sparkling wine. I firmly believe this is why we are seeing so many sparklers coming from Italy’s native grapes: high acid=potential sparkling wine!
The label on all Crotin wines features a seashell, which pays homage to the soils on and around the property. I look forward to visiting one day, but apparently your feet might come in contact with these shells while walking through the vineyards!
I was expecting a super fresh wine, since it’s made with the Martinotti method, and indeed it was. Aromas of wild strawberries and citrus pith, the palate was refreshing and lively with more wild strawberries, red currants, cranberry and blood orange, with herbal undernotes (think rosemary and thyme). There was some creaminess going on in my meal because of the sauce I had on my pasta, and the bubbles helped to cleanse my palate and be ready for the next bite! My thought process for pairing was always some sort of vegetable dish (which to be honest was the highlight of the meal with the colour: autumn veggie choices of zucchini and brussel sprouts, along with heritage cherry tomato and spices), with the other parts of my meal complementing nicely. Mostly, it was a great way to have a full-flavoured meal (dill and garlic being the primary spices) and have a lovely refreshing wine to “wash it all down” with!
The sparkling Freisa hit the spot and if you’re looking for a sparkling wine for your turkey (or other poultry) dinner, this would be a good choice if you can find it! Or, just celebrate the season with a good bubbly and raise your glass to saying good riddance to 2020 and hello to 2021!
If you can’t find a freisa, please check out my fellow bloggers in #ItalianFWT to see what sparkler they are quaffing this holiday season, and it just might be available in YOUR market. Salute e Buon Natale!
- Terri of Our Good Life says Beviamo alla nostra! Prosecco Superiore and Happy Christmas!
- Cindy of Grape Experiences writes about Pure Trentodoc – Sparkling Wines from the Mountains.
- Jill of L’Occasion encourages us to Be in Italy for the Holidays with This Bubbly Wine Lineup.
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator pushes Beyond Prosecco? Try These Sustainable Sparkling Wines from Italy’s Erbaluce, Franciacorta, Lambrusco, Pignoletto.
- Lynn of Savor the Harvest gives us Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco to Make Your Holiday Sparkle – La Tordera Rive Di Guia.
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm says Cheers to 2021…2020 Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out.
- Susannah of Avvinare pours Versatile Lambrusco for the Holidays.
- Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen serves Val D’Oca Prosecco Paired with Party Starters.
- Payal of Keep the Peas offers A ‘SeeYaNever2020’ Toast with Italian Bubbly.
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass says Hello Again, Lambrusco – Everyone Deserves a Second Chance.
- Jane of Always Ravenous pairs a Frizzante with Holiday Sweet Treats.
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles pours Prosecco – Joyful Bubbles to “Wring” Out 2020.
- Jen of Vino Travels is ready to Sparkle up the Holidays with Italian Prosecco.
- Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog offers A Taste of 21st Century Lambrusco; Paltrinieri Lambrusco di Sorbara Radice.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is Celebrating with Prosecco Superiore Amidst the Pandemic.
- Katrina of GrapevineAdventures is discussing A Year in Need of Sparkling Wine Surprises