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Az Agr 499

Az Agr 499

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, 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. Theirs is one of the few organically farmed vineyards in the region – nearly 15 acres dedicated to Freisa and Moscato.

Freisa, the sole red grape vinified at this cantina, has been propagated in the Piedmont since at least the 18th century; ampelographers believe the grape originated in the hills between Asti and Turin. Its high acidity, firm tannins, ageability, and complexity can be credited to its genetic connection to Nebbiolo. Azienda Agricola 499’s Freisa vines come from sandy and chalky soils mostly facing northwest and northeast.


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