The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Frecciarossa 2010 Riesling Frizzante NAI

Posted on | June 16, 2015 | Written by Michael Adler | No Comments

SPK95-2TSituated to the east of Piemonte, Lombardia is home to a number of fascinating wines that are often criminally overlooked here in the states. In the far north, the Valtellina, a treacherously steep 25-mile valley, produces the world’s second-finest Nebbiolo (locally called Chiavennasca). Located in the center of the region is Franciacorta, which crafts the world’s second-finest Méthode Champenoise wines.

Yet even more overshadowed than its Lombard brethren is Oltrepò Pavese, a zone just south of Milan that surprisingly accounts for more than half of all wines produced in Lombardia. Pinot Nero and Riesling have historically been the leading grapes, but a number of both indigenous and international grape varietals also play an important role in blends. Situated at the same latitude as Burgundy and Piemonte, Oltrepò Pavese produces many truly delightful wines.

The wine I’m featuring today is the Frecciarossa 2010 Riesling Nai Frizzante, which hails from the rolling hills of Oltrepò Pavese, though it’s bottled as IGT Provincia di Pavia rather than as a DOC wine. A heady, aromatic blend of 75% Riesling and 25% Pinot Nero, the ’10 Nai Frizzante is lightly sparkling, although it’s sealed with a standard cork and no cage. I strongly recommend serving it in conventional wine glasses rather than champagne flutes in order to reap the most from its subtle and complex nose.

In the glass, the Nai Frizzante shows a brilliant golden yellow with the slightest hint of green, and a very gentle, fine perlage persists throughout. If I had tasted the wine blind, I might have thought it was a Blanc de Noirs from Champagne! Heady notes of brioche, pear, mineral and wildflowers burst from the glass—I almost forgot that the dominant grape is Riesling until I took a sip. This wine coats the palate in that lovely glossy sheen that only Riesling can provide, though it succumbs to the wine’s lovely acidity at the finish. Viscous yet lean, round yet fresh, this is a wine of balanced dichotomies that evolves constantly in the glass. My girlfriend Danielle and I enjoyed half of it before dinner as an aperitif, then finished it off after dinner with some blue cheese and figs, which paired beautifully.

Under $20 a bottle, this is a wine to buy by the half or full case to enjoy in the park or on the patio, while heating up the grill or while cooling down after a long day in the sun. Just do me one favor: leave your champagne flutes at home!

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