Azienda Agricola 499 Freisa 2017
Region: Langhe DOC, Piemonte, Italy
499 takes its name from the elevation of its vineyards; 499 meters above sea level. A small, family-run estate, they keep14 acres dedicated to Moscato and Freisa. the later of which is the star of their production. As a native but lesser-known relative of Nebbiolo, Freisa is beloved in Piemonte for its hardiness, rusticity, and nuance. With the advent of a more globalized wine palate, plantings of Freisa have declined in favor of more easily recognized grapes, such as Barbera, Nebbiolo, and Dolcetto.
The drive to the tiny cantina of Azienda Agricola 499 is long, winding and, to those unfamiliar with with piedmont backroads, a bit treacherous. Here, near Camo in the Cuneo province, Viticulturist and Winemaker Mario Andrion and Gabriele Saffirio are cultivating Freisa on steep vineyards rooted in limestone rich soils.
The duo are not newcomers. Andrion is winemaker at the famous Barolo and Barbaresco estate, Castello di Verduno. He and Saffirio (a cellar worker at one of Barolo’s best, Fratelli Brovia) founded 499 in 2012. For this project, they switched roles — Saffirio manages the organic vineyard work, while Andrion took over the cellar. Together, they’re pioneering the rebirth of single site Freisa as well as a setting an example in the region by using only organic grapes.