Dear Wine Explorer,
Congratulations, you have discovered the home of a unique small specialist family winery, boasting Australia's only plantings of two northern Italian origin grape varieties - Rondinella and Corvina - the source of the flagship and award-winning FREEMAN Secco. It leads a portfolio of mostly Italian inspired wines that have earnt the prestigious 5-Star rating in the 2017 Halliday Wine Companion.
Freeman Vineyards was established in 1999 by Dr Brian Freeman, previously the Professor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, in the Hilltops region of New South Wales. It is a region largely overlooked by expansionist wine companies – other than the McWilliam family whose Barwang brand is well recognised.
Best known for cherries, stone fruits and top quality merinos, the terroir of the Hilltops is also ideally suited to viticulture, especially to three northern Italian imports – Corvina, Rondinella – the mainstay grapes of Valpolicella and Amarone wines, and Nebbiolo. The classic red Australian stalwart varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz also thrive here.
The home block of the 103-hectare estate was propagated from just six cuttings of Rondinella and Corvina sourced from the CSIRO’s grape breeding collection. Time and effort, trial and error, have combined to create the flagship FREEMAN Secco inspired both by Italian tradition and local Hilltops horticulture.
To create the FREEMAN 'Secco' Rondinella Corvina a portion of the grapes are dried in a neighbour’s solar-powered prune dehydrator. The grapes are layered on racks and gently heated in air tunnels at 400C for up to 10 days, a process that concentrates flavours and modifies the tannin structure of the seeds. The dried grapes are then added to the fermentation tanks. Subsequently, the wine is aged for 12 months in a combination of old French and American oak barriques.
The traditionalists of the Veneto probably wouldn’t approve, but the 2004 vintage of this different savoury wine was twice honoured with the 'Best Mature Dry Red' Trophy at the 2011 and 2009 NSW Wine Awards. The current 2012 vintage marks a decade for this unique wine.
Northern Italy also provides the inspiration for the FREEMAN Fortuna Pinot Grigio Plus, which was rated one of the 'World's 100 Most Exciting Wine Finds' in the prestigious WINE REPORT by UK wine commentator Tom Stevenson MW. Within months of its release it was chosen in the Top 40 of the NSW Wine Awards and was selected for service in Qantas First Class. Halliday describes the 2012 vintage as a 'thoroughy satisfying blend of complex flavours and tangy freshness.'
This unusual wine is a savoury, textural aromatic blend of several varieties – pinot grigio, riesling, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, plus a dash of Aleatico. It is reminiscent of some of the multiple white varietal blends of the Alto Adige and Friuli, an ideal unconventional Italian-style white companion for the flagship Rondinella Corvina.
The third wine in the northern Italian inspired portfolio is FREEMAN Rondo Rosé, a dry savoury style again inspired by similar wines that originate from the Veneto region in northern Italy.
While the latest Italian stallion addition is FREEMAN Nebbiolo, another Italian variety showing terrific potential in the Hilltops region.The current release 2014 vintage is rated 94 Points by James Halliday. He also likes the FREEMAN Prosecco 2015 granting a 94 Point halo, and the triple Trophy dessert-style FREEMAN Dolcino 2013, rated 95 Points.
FREEMAN also produces limited releases of three reds – FREEMAN Tempranillo, a trophy-winning FREEMAN Cabernet Sauvignon and FREEMAN Shiraz all sourced from the estate Altura Vineyard.
These wines are available from the winery by Mail Order and will be couriered to your nominated Australian address FREIGHT FREE.
'Brian Freeman's wines, made in homage to the reds of the Italian Veneto region and the whites of Friuli,
have received great critical acclaim, but nothing I've so far read or heard does justice to how
truly exciting, innovative and inspirational they are.'
MAX ALLEN, THE FUTURE MAKERS
'One of those wonderfully genuine places where the fascinating wines are the main attraction,
while the authentic facilities are a conduit for a memorabble tasting.'
MIKE BENNIE, GOURMET TRAVELLER WINE
2016 STAR CELLAR DOOR AWARD
'Dr Brian Freeman has embraced Italian varietals to make some of the nation's most luscious wines.'
MARK EGGLETON, WINE UNCOVERED