My favourite Primitivo di Manduria – from 60 year old wines at Bacco, Bangkok

December 3, 2011

One of my favourite wines is the ‘Primitivo di Manduria’ produced from 60 year old vines, either the 2006 or the 2007 vintages (I like both) which I usually have at Bacco ristorante and wine bar in Thonglor, which is my favourite Italian restaurant in Bangkok.

Look at the colour

Manduria is a small country town in the province of Taranto with about 30,000 inhabitants in Apulia, close to the coast of Southern Italy. Apart from its interesting history it is also a place where the best Primitivo grapes are grown and made into wine.

The DOC Primitivo di Manduria wines are unlike other Primitivo wines made with a 100% of Primitivo grapes. The wines are usually heavy, dark red and have at least 14% of alcohol. More than two thousands years ago the Primitivo grapes were brought from Greece to Southern Italy and ever since wine making was part of the local culture.

In the video clip above the vines are not supported by any trellis system. The grapes are harvested by hand without secateurs. The bunches are small. The farm vehicle delivering the grapes to the winery is tiny.

Italo Western come to mind when listening to the film music. The processing, however, is more on the modern side. And I love the end of the clip when a glass of Primitivo is presented.

The ‘2007 Primitivo di Manduria Sessantanni Old Wines’ by Feudi di San Marzano, is a great wine. I love the fruitiness, the elegance with the dense and velvety tannins, the finely balanced acids. Hmm, just like being in paradise.

Feudi di San Marzano is not a small producer though, it has 500 ha under vines and produces a wide range of wines, many from indigenous varieties.

So if you are in Bangkok and you want truly Italian experience, go to Bacco and order a bottle of Primitivo di Manduria. You will not be disappointed.

Easter Sunday: Lunch at Bacco, Bangkok

April 26, 2011

No better place to go for a Sunday Easter family lunch than Ristorante Bacco, our favourite Italian restaurant in Thonglor, our old neighbourhood. We like real food with rustic charm and not the designer stuff, small bits of food looking like works of art on big plates.

Below you can see what we ate. First are the three antipasti we selected. Delicious.

Melanzane alla parmigiana


Insalata caprese

All three antipasti on my plate

Our family consists of “traditionalists”. Three of us ordered gnocchi, the other main dish was tagliatelle with mushrooms in a creamy sauce.


Tagliatelli delicata

How about the wine, you might ask. I love to order a simple ‘Primitivo’ (called “Zinfandel” in the USA) from Apulia. This time I selected a pricier wine than normal, a Primitivo made from 60 year old vines.

It turned out to be an excellent choice. The ‘2007 Primitivo di Manduria DOC’ by Feudi di San Marzano is a big wine (with 14.5% alcohol). The intense fruit aromas, plums mainly but also with earthy and spicy notes, had me forget that I was in the tropics.

Manduria is a town of about 30,000 inhabitant, about 30 km east of Taranto and about 14 km north from the Apulian coast. The place has a very warm climate.

The wine is made from 100% Primitivo grapes. One can sense that the vines are old, very old (sixty years, is what the label says). The bottles are also very heavy and old fashioned. I liked it, not wasting any thought about the carbon footprint.

2007 Primitivo di Manduria DOC

The back label of the Primitivo by Feudi di San Marzano

And after all this delicious food came the sweets or dolce as they are called in Italian.

Strawberries and cream

Pistaccio ice cream


This was a very memorable Easter Sunday lunch. We had a great time with yummy food and delicious wine at Bacco. I will remember the wine and order it again.

If you need something special, and you do not want any more Thai food, have a break and eat Italian at Bacco. You will not regret it.

Bacco Osteria da Sergio
Sukhumvit Soi 53, Bangkok,
Tel.: +66-2-662-4538

Pomodoro, Italian cuisine in Saigon-Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

June 20, 2010

The historic Peoples Committee building next to modern high rises in glass

The menu of Pomodoro

“One cannot have always Asian food”, is how some people feel when traveling in Asia. Having the opportunity to check out an Italian restaurant was just too tempting. “Pomodoro” it was called, tomato. And in fact tomatoes were to be found not only on the menu, but also on the coasters. I took one as a souvenir.

The staff in the restaurant is very friendly, helpful and flexible. I craved for gnocchi when I detected them on the menu. Just simple “gnocchi al pomodoro”. They were delicious. I just had a salad with it, which made a perfect meal.

Gnocchi with tomato sauce

The restaurant has a very impressive wine list. Unfortunately, I do not know much about Italian wines. We asked what seemed to be “il padrone” (the boss), and he suggested we try the house wine, a ‘2007 Sandiliano Salento Rosso’ from Apulia.

A beautifully presented bottle of red

As I learned while writing this blog entry, the Apulian wine region is divided into two, the North and the South. Salento is situated to the south of the Brindisi-Taranto line. It is a peninsula of low, rolling hills that extends between the Adriatic and Ionian seas to the easternmost point of Italy. Thanks to the sea currents and breezes, the climate of Sorento is not too hot.

Therefore it wines have sufficient acidity and are not boring like “sultana wines” (or raisin wines as I call them). Salento’s traditional wines were the powerful, inky reds from Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grape varieties. But increasingly fresher reds and rosés are produced, which show some unexpectedly bright and fruity characters.

The ‘2007 Sandiliano Salerno Rosso’, the house wine of Pomodoro, belonged to this latter category. It went very well with my gnocchi. The wine is a blend of Negroamaro and Merlot (12% vol. alc. only). It is fruity but not overwhelmingly so. It is a dark red and rustic wine, as I like them. One can taste the soil and the peasants hand.

Sandiliano Salento Rosso

pomodoro italian restaurant
79 Hai Ba Trung, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City
Tel.: +84-8-38238998
Fax: +84-8-38238957

PS: For the Italophiles among you, I enclose herewith a little video clip on “Il padrone della casa”

Kayzer Soza – bar cum resto in Berlin

June 8, 2008

I love Berlin; it’s a great city with so much on offer. My friend Rainer Heufers took me to a rustic place in Tucholsky street, near the synagogue, called “Kayzer Soza”, named after the mythic film figure. Rainer knows Berlin very well since he lived there for a couple of years.

The inside of “Kayzer Soza”

Berlin is a cosmopolitan city again with a growing Jewish community. Just across the street from the restaurant was a bagel bakery.

“Kayzer Soza” was buzzing with people, mostly young, happy people with lots of time on their hands. Many were seated on the pavement of the sidewalk where we could not find space so we went inside. There it was rather empty at this early time, but that was about to change soon.

We ordered a hearty meal consisting of a strange selection of dishes: Suebian cheese noodles, a Mediterranean salad, olives, and a bottle of ‘Primitivo’, a ‘2006 Terre di Montelusa’ from Italy. We just felt like that after a long day meeting. The wine intrigued me because he comes from Brindisi in Apulia (Puglia) and I never knowingly drank a wine from there. It was a robust country wine. I guess the bottle did not cost more than 3 to 4 EURO. My last ‘Zinfandel’, as the ‘Primitivo’ is known in the US, I tasted more than 10 years ago during a winery tour in California.

When I opened the menu a poem jumped into my eyes. Freely translated it said the following:

“Good wine makes good blood.
Good blood makes good deeds and
good deeds lead mankind to heaven”.

It is said to originate from the Veneto, the lovely Italian wine region.

Suebian cheese noodles

The salad

A simple wine but matching the occasion

My friend Rainer tugging in