Pelaverga, Freisa and Ruche (and other lesser known Piedmont grapes)

I recently had a Vajra Freisa that was very enjoyable. It has me wondering about some other, not so popular, wines in the region. What other Freisa, Pelaverga and Ruche wines should I try? I just started a podcast about Castello di Verduno and I believe it will touch on their Pelaverga.

Burlotto Pelaverga is usually quite nice.

Fratelli Alessandria pelaverga is also excellent. Pelaverga is grown only in Verduno, so there isn’t a lot of it.

Burlotto’s freisa is interesting and quite different from Vajra’s. Burlotto’s tends to be grapy and approachable fairly young, while the Vajra show’s the grape’s genetic connection to nebbiolo, and it can age for several decades. Freisa lacks some of nebbiolo’s aromatics, but has all of its tannins, so it’s not that widely cultivated. (I don’t recall any Barbaresco producers growing it.) Giuseppe Mascarello makes one, too, but the one bottle I aged for 15+ years didn’t get that interesting.

Ruche is grown some distance to the east of Barolo and Barbaresco. It’s pretty tannic, so it’s often made slightly sweet, and sometimes frizzante – lightly sparkling. Those can pair well with not-too-sweet desserts like nut cakes. They would also work as apertif wines.

Well, Jeff…if we’re talking obscure Piemonte varieties, don’t forget Brachetto. It’s a frivolous little wine that appeals to unsophisticated minds…
which is why I like it, I guess. Usually frizzante, usually slightly off-dry. Goes great w/ charcuterie. I’ve had a couple of still/dry versions from Scarpa.

So I was just in Torino last month, and had 4 different Ruche bottlings while I was there (sadly my bottle photos have disappeared from my iPhone or I would provide names). None of them were sweet, and none of them were frizzante. I’ve had two different Ruche bottlings in the US over the last year. Neither was sweet or frizzante.

There’s definitely a trend to producing more dry ruche.

Thanks Tom. I like Sottimano’s Mate bottling. It is a dry version of Brachetto.

I finished the podcast. Mario Andrion mentioned that only 11 producers make a Pelaverga and that 4 of them account for 80% of the production. I will do some digging on CT to find more information.

Thanks for the responses, guys.

I’d be interested to hear more of your thoughts on these, David. DId you find them to be in line with John’s description? Anything you would seek out?

I was first introduced to pelaverga by this thread TN: Dinner with Bill Klapp at Centro Storico in Serralunga d’Alba - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers when the Professor enjoyed dinner with Signore Klapp.
I had not come across this wine before and was intrigued. So intrigued, I went and purchased the 2015 Burlotto Pelaverga. Opened one and thought it was nice. Good bright fruit and spice. I liked it slightly cool. A second bottle was given away by a family member and I have no idea if the recipient enjoyed it or has yet to even open up the bottle. I expect to open my last bottle soon when warmer weather arrives.

While I have no desire to corner the market on US imports of pelaverga (i.e. - there will be no “backing up of the truck”), I expect I would purchase more if I stumbled across some.

I have come across more Brachetto than Pelaverga or Ruche.
Banfi’s sparkling Brachetto (Rosa Regale) seems to be widely distributed and I have seen the Braida Brachetto d’ Acqui and the Tenimenti Brachetto around as well.

As I mentioned, the photos I took of the bottles in Italy are gone from my iPhone. Oops.

One I have had in the USA that I like very much is Crivelli.

“Se qualcuno a Castagnole Monferrato vi offre il Ruchè, è perché ha piacere di voi.”
. . . translated as: If someone in Castagnole Monferrato offers you a Ruchè, it’s because he likes you.

Jeff, thanks for bringing up some very tasty but overlooked grapes. For sure they can be enjoyed on their own but go especially well with various foods. Best of all is that they won’t break the bank.

A few we have had recently and enjoyed were:

2015 Castello di Verduno “Basadone” Pelaverga

2015 Luca Ferraris “Bric di Blanc” Ruche

2016 Tenuta Migliavacca Freisa

There is so much variety in Italian wine besides the usual suspects that always get written up. Another lesser known, somewhat obscure but delicious grape is Timorasso, Really liked the
2015 Vigneti Massa “Derthona” Timorasso. This did see a short time on their skins. The fruit flavors coupled with some tannin make this an especially versatile white.

Good luck searching out and enjoying these grape varieties.


Hi Jeff
A couple of white grapes - Erbaluce from up north (sweet, dry, sparkling all can be interesting), and Timorasso to the east, a white that can handle foods that you’d normally be thinking red.
Vespolina, often found in Ghemme, but a growing number bottling varietal wines
Fumin from Aosta, not much made but a personal favourite. Grignolino worth a try
We had an interesting old Freisa at a tasting last year, perhaps a late harvest / dessert wine in it’s youth, but that was many decades before we drank this interesting old curio


I’ve liked Bondonio’s pelaverga the few times I’ve had it.

Yup, Tom…Timorasso makes some seriously good white wine. Maybe Piemonte’s best white wine, though Arneis is right up there.
WalterMassa was the guy who brought Timorasso back from the dead. His Timorasso has always been the gold standard for the grape.
But I recently had a Coppi:

that I thought was the best one yet.

In case anyone is interested in checking out a domestic version - bottled this 2017 Freisa about two months ago.
harrington bottling 7.jpg

Disclaimer, I import the tiny amount that he allocates to me and its stunning. Of course you won’t know it’s pelaverga without a bit of inside knowledge - because he is in Barbaresco and not Verduno, he can’t label as such. Therefore, “rosso Giulietta” named after his first born daughter. And that label!

Hey Ken, should have guessed that Bryan would produce a Freisa. Its now on my radar to try.