Cellar Frisach L’Abrunet Negre: Natural Wine from Terra Alta

If you’re keen to step off the main wine drag to taste different things in a relaxed environment, go to Arenales when you visit San Sebastián, Spain. The food creations are super tasty at this small, restaurant and bar, where their specialty is natural wines, including those from Catalonia producer Cellar Frisach.

The food comes small plate style along with a few main dishes. It’s a nice change from pinxto bar hopping in San Sebastián’s old town (which you definitely must partake in too). And it’s conveniently located just a few blocks from the old town off Boulevard Zumardia.

This resto bar specializes in natural wines yet also has regular wine choices, and always from producers who walk the ‘no chemicals, take care of the land’ line.

What I especially like about Arenales is the ability to taste several wines to which I don’t have access. (I remind you we live in Bordeaux, need I say more?!?)

Wine Tasting Experience at Arenales Bar

On our recent trip, I chose L’Abrunet Negre from Cellar Frisach, a winery with an interesting story dating to the time of Franco.

L’Abrunet is a blend of 60% Garnacha Negra (called Vernatxa Fina in Basque Country) and 40% Carineña. I especially enjoy the refreshing, bright quality packed with fresh and dried cherries, earth and pepper spice aromas and flavors. Easy to drink, I posit it would steal the show lightly chilled on a warm summer evening with the BBQ putting out grilled vegetables, seafood, poultry, and/or lamb keftedes. You can find a tasty sample of keftedes here.

The freshness mentioned above comes from the winemaking. The grapes co-ferment in underground cement tanks called trulls, a Catalan term for the vessel, which the owner’s grandparents built. This lets the grape flavors and characteristics present themselves without any influence from oak.

Who is Cellar Frisach?

Brothers Joan and Francesc Ferré, who own and run the winery, choose to grow grapes and make wine in an eco-friendly, organic manner. They rarely add SO2 (sulfur dioxide) with L’Abrunet Negre being an example of this philosophy: zero SO2 added.

Frisach is the surname of their great-grandfather, who grew and sold grapes. The brothers decided to stop selling them and make their own wine in about 2009. Along those lines, they are deeply attached to their land in Terra Alta, a Catalonian region, the reason Cellar Frisach makes natural style wine.

In addition, the brothers are considered young stars in Spain’s natural wine scene. Apparently, they produce a stunning Brisat (orange or skin-contact wine) I would love to taste!

My conclusion? Cellar Frisach’s L’Abrunet Negre exceeded expectations: reasonably priced (9-11€ in the EU, $18-22 in the US), good quality, and pairs well with a variety of foods. And Arenales Bar continues to provide a low-key atmosphere with tasty vegetarian and protein based plates to pair with a nice selection of always changing wine. It’s a great place for an easy-going lunch and new wine discoveries.

Imported into the US by Coeur Wine Co. If you have trouble finding Cellar Frisach wines where you live, exporter Paris Wine Company may be able to help locate a source.

Information sources I used are the above mentioned two companies, the Cellar Frisache website and Rick Fisher, the Wine Scholar Guild’s Spanish Wine Scholar Program Director.

10 thoughts on “Cellar Frisach L’Abrunet Negre: Natural Wine from Terra Alta

  1. robincgc

    I am dreaming of the Basque Country these days! (I’m planning a tasting that includes Txakoli). The coast there looks so beautiful!
    I was completely unfamiliar with “trulls”! You know I love learning new wine terms!
    This is a wine I will look for! And I will continue to daydream about visiting the region!

    1. Lynn Post author

      I wasn’t familiar with trulls either so reached out to Rick Fisher at Wine Scholar Guild. He’s a super resource for all things Spanish wine. I hope you get to the Spanish Basque Country for exploration. Green Spain is large… we still have a lot to go. Same applies to Cataluña and Terra Alta!

  2. juan

    Oh Spain… you always have something else to showcase. And thank YOU for galavanting around to write about these nuances for us to enjoy… and drool over!


    I’m loving the sound of this wine and the idea that it would be a great companion chilled with the options you mentioned. Ha! And whenever I see some of the prices for wines in Spain, I long to visit. Seems like you had a great time enjoying the wines and food of Basque country. Hi to Mark for me Lynn!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Yes, we enjoy San Sebastián and environs immensely, and our recent trip was no exception. France has reasonable wine pricing too, but Spain definitely wins. Perhaps the four of us should meet up there to satiate your longing?!?

    1. Lynn Post author

      As do I – the people are warm and friendly, the food delectable, and the wines fantastic. Thanks for your comment Lori!


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