Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Diary 47: the wines of newcomer Emanuele Gambino

It is always exciting to be in on something new. Most wineries in Piemonte are happy to regale you with how many generations have been farmers before them. And there is nothing wrong with local pride. By contrast, Emanuele Gambino of the winery with the same name is a new venture. Yes, part of the heritage is a family farm, Tenuta Piansrej in Santo Stefano, Belbo. It is planted with Moscato and Nebbiolo. The other part, San Martino in Costigliole d’Asti, is a recent acquisition. It is planted with Barbera, Nebbiolo, Grignolino and with international varieties as well, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc. Put together, these vineyards allowed Gambino to set himself up in 2016. The total vineyard amounts to 12 hectares.

Gambino labels

Gambino labels

An outstanding dry Moscato white wine

I have tasted two of the wine and am most excited about Mò Frem, Vino Bianco, 2020, 13.5%. This is a dry Moscato Bianco. Santo Stefano Belbo is one of the great Moscato villages. However, most of the wine made is, of course, either Moscato d’Asti or Asti. In other words, the typical wines are sweet and sparkling. Gambino wants to be a bit different and has made his dry and still. And I have to say, it really works. The wine has elegant aromas of orange blossom and peach with a hint of green herbs, a medium body and plenty of refreshing acidity. Dry Moscato can be overly aromatic with low acidity and can be bitter. By contrast, this is balanced, fresh and definitely tempts you to drink another glass or two. The vineyard is certified organic and the wine is aged in amphora. Perhaps the latter helps to reduce pungent Moscato aromas. Mò Frem means ‘dry Moscato’ in the local dialect. The tubby bottle is adorned with a really striking, locally designed label by Simona Sarotta. Perhaps you are meant to drink the wine when you get it as this bottle shape will not go in any conventional bottle rack!

The challenge of Barbera

I have also tasted the Barbera d’Asti Superiore in both the 2019 and 2020 versions. This wine is more typical of the area, with plenty of red berried fruit, mild tannins and lively acidity. It has that classic Barbera drinkability. The 2020 does struggle a bit, as do many Barberas, with high alcohol levels, 15% abv on the label. Barbera can work at this level (as shown by Braida (see Two titans of Monferrato Barbera) or Pierfrancesco Gatto). But, ideally the wine either needs to be nearer 14% or have a truly remarkable fruit concentration.

Emanuele Gambino is definitely a winery to watch.

Travel tip. If you want somewhere to stay in the area, La Tenuta Romana, is an excellent choice. It is to be found just outside Nizza Monferrato. There are many wineries to visit nearby. It has traditional rooms, a swimming pool and an excellent restaurant on site. The connection is that it is owned by the same family.

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