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Piedmont & Wine: Torino

Visit this rare example of urban vinyard and taste the excellent Freisa wine

by Roxana Iacoban

Wine represents one of the most ancient pleasures in the world (BC) in all its varieties, colors and flavors. It carries with it cultural patrimony, the kind that should never stop being passed on to new generations, because it represents local and national heritage. And here I am sipping a glass from one of the 4100 bottles of the Freisa Superiore and writing about my wonderful experience in Piemont, at the 8th edition of the Di Freisa in Freisa event 2017. Every sip of this amazing fully flavored wine reminds me of the first place I visited on the Torinese hills and its magnificent surroundings: what a sight!

Villa della Regina or Vigna della Regina

(i.e. The Queen’s Vinyard)

I had only once been to Torino before and hadn’t had enough time to explore the city as it deserved. I was guided towards the Torinese green hills that in the light of the summer sun looked even greener and more splendid than usual. We came across this beautiful villa: Villa Regina, a 1500’s Baroque villa that belonged first to Ludovica di Savoia and at her death given in heritage to Anna Maria di Orleans. This Villa was actually the first to ever be given in heritage to the women of the royal family. One can visit it in different times of the day and enjoy the view of Torino from uphill.

What really caught my eye though, was the view of the Vigna: the vineyard to the right of the villa. I learnt that this, together with just other two vinyards in Europe is a rare example of urban vinyard (and the only one in Italy). The vinyard is 500 years old, and this is testified by an official document that talks about the value and existence of the “Freisa” wine. According to the document this wine was more valuable than others both because of its rich flavor and because one had to pay at least double than for other types of wine back in the days.

Roxana in the vineyards

Roxana in the vineyards

But unfortunately history often destroys entire cultures within seconds and this place had been bombed during the World War. Luckily the Balbiano family who owns the Balbiano wine cellar understood its value and importance both for the region and for Italy itself. Thanks to them and their collaboration with the Agricultural Faculty of the University of Torino (prof Gerbi) and the CNR Torino (Dr Anna Schneider), a long period of research and work had started. For years they tried to get back what had seemed lost. It takes passion and perseverance, commitment and knowledge. What they did was getting back the roots of the vinyard and understanding its composition and genetics through historical, scientifical and archelogical studies. They then reproduced it, cloning it into an identical vinyard, doing lots of testing, tasting and analysis.

In 2004 they were able to have the first urban wine in Torino, and in 2011 it was possible to include the wine produced at the Vigna della Regina into the area of the Freisa Doc Wine of Chieri.

This urban vinyard produces a limited number of bottles of wine, that one can only be found in this territory and can only be purchased on the spot or through the Cantina Balbiano (and of course I got my own numbered bottles of Freisa Superiore from 2013). This is a way to keep this valuable product in the region, and an amazing excuse to visit the breathtaking hills of Torino! You sure won’t regret coming here!

The vinyard adds value and personality to these beautiful hills, with its ancient history, together with the effort that was put to preserve and restore it, and its rarity in the world: another reason to visit this beautiful region!

Roxana Iacoban

Italia Slow Tour Ambassador @ Di Freisa in Freisa

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