2006 Leonardo Chianti Riserva

April 7, 2011

The vegetable pastry

My twin daughters had prepared the antipasti (vegetable pastry, in Swabian: Maultaschen) and after that we had a chicken cacciatore.

Chicken cacciatore with potatoes

I had deliberately selected a red wine, a ‘2006 Leonardo Chianti Riserva’ by Cantine Leonardo da Vinci in Vinci, near Florence.

Normally, I try to avoid wine co-operatives and their produce but instead go, if I can, for single vineyard wines, small boutique wineries and family vineyards. More often than I want, I end up with what I call industrial wines, standard blends of grapes from many locations and different grape varieties.

The wine is a blend of Sangiovese 85%, Merlot 10% and some other red grapes 5% which are not specified. It has a beautiful colour, and a fruity aroma of red berries with notes of vanilla, a bit spicy. The wine is matured for about 10 months in French oak but the oak is not overpowering. The tannins are well balanced.

Leonardo Chianti Riserva

I admit that I bought the bottle because of its label. Who does not like Leonardo da Vinci and his famous drawing of the Vitruvian Man. I am a Renaissance man myself, a polymath, a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Beautiful dark red colour

Cantine Leonardo da Vinci
Via Provinciale di Mercatale, 291
50059 Vinci (FI) – ITALY

La Domenica – A Tuscan feast with Tuscan wine

June 13, 2010

Jamie Oliver’s Italy

It was high time for some beautiful Italian food after my culinary peregrinations in Taiwan, especially since I am in the process of packing my suitcase again. I will be in Vietnam for the next two weeks and explore some of the foods in Hanoi and Saigon.

I am a lover of pasta, any pasta. Based on a recipe from the Jamie Oliver Italy book, we set out on a “fusilli con rague”. Imagine a sauce thick with the flavours of beef rosemary and tomatoes simmering on the kitchen stove for hours.

Our favorite Prosecco so that the waiting was bearable

The table waiting for the pasta

Voila: the pasta

It was delicious, just what I needed, earthy and robust, rooted in the peasant traditions of Italy.

What about the wine? I bought a bottle of Italian wine from my favourite wine shop in Taoyuan just across from the International Center for Land Policy Studies and Training (ICLPST). Nothing special, but decent. It was a bottle of ‘2007 Chianti D.O.C.G.’ by Melini, one of the best wine makers of Tuscany.

In wine reviews it gets three, sometimes four, out of five stars. It has about 13.5 % alcohol and costs between US$ 8 to 12. This young Chianti is a solid wine for every day, with good fruit flavours, medium bodied with a long finish. It went very well with the pasta.

PS: The good news is that in July we will be in Rome and Florence with ample opportunity to taste many Tuscan wines.

Restaurant review: La Villa – Il Ristorante, Bangkok

June 27, 2009


We are so blessed. Living in Thonglor, Bangkok, we have quite a number of first class restaurants just in walking distance from our flat. The other day, we explored La Villa – The restaurant, a classic Italian place at the corner of some smaller lanes right in the heart of Thonglor.

The building is a 1930 architectural style modern replica villa with a large parking lot in front. After one has entered the restaurant, the hassle of the corner block traffic, is left behind and the cozy atmosphere of a true Italian family restaurant engulfs the eager dinner guests.

After an entree of bruscette, we went right for the main course. It was a Friday night and the four of us were hungry and tired. I went for my favorite pizza, a pizza margherita. the girls had some ravioli and Margit ordered a seafood pasta. To cut a long story short, the food is superb.


The pizza margherita


The ravioli


Seafood pasta in aluminum foil

My knowledge of Italian wine is negligible. Having lived in Italy for almost three years but so little expertise, I am ashamed. Ordering the wine therefore, was a challenge. I choose a bottle of red, despite Margit’s seafood dish but with her consent (I admit of not caring much for the traditional tenet of having white wine with fish and seafood dishes).


My choice was a ‘2006 Castello di Farnetella – Chianti di Colli Senesi’, a wine from the lower price range of the restaurants extensive wine list. As I learned later from my research, this was an excellent choice. Colli Senesi is a sub zone of Chianti which does not have the “classico” designation. As a consequence prices are ridiculously low for the quality. Whereas just across the road the classico wines sell for about US$ 30-40, they are only about about half at non designated side.


The wine is medium bodied and has a good structure. It feels silky in the mouth and shows aromas of raspberry, prune, floral notes and licorice.

We had a great evening at La Villa. With its very competent and friendly service, this classic Italian restaurant is an excellent choice for a family meal in a homely environment. Check it out when next in Bangkok.

La Villa Wine Lounge and Restaurant
131 Thonglor, Soi 9
Sukhumvit 53
Bangkok 10110
Tel.: +66-2-7129991
Opening hours: 11:00-14:00 AM/PM and 18:00-23:00 PM

Up North

April 8, 2007

I travelled north, from Jakarta to Taoyuan, Taiwan where I am going to teach for a week at the International Center for Land Policy Studies and Training (ICLPST). The flight was very comfortable in the business class of China Airlines. The menu I chose was all seafood. Boiled baby prawns with tomato and lettuce leaves as entrée and fish and prawn satay in ginger light soya sauce with Shanghai noodles as main course. On top of the wine list I found to my surprise a German Riesling from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, my home region in Germany where also Trier, my hometown, is located (www.trier.de). Home sweet home, and out of this melancholy, I asked for it.


It said: 2005 Spaetlese, but I could not resist! The description claimed the wine is “rich, buttery layered with flavours of orange zest, Asian pears and golden delicious apples, with a subtle, smoky back note”. I could not taste any of this. For me it was “sugary” and the steward was so kind to let me have the second white wine on the menue: a Chardonnay from the US. 2006 White Mare Russian River Valley (Sonoma County), depicting a white horse on the label, not my type of label but what could I do. I did not know the winery. There was also a red (Cabernet Sauvignon), 2005 Daisy Ridge with the same white horse label.

The second red wine was from Italy, a Chianti Classico 2005 from Coli in Tuscany. After a couple of glasses of the Chardonnay, which I quite liked, I moved on to the Italian wine and stayed with it for the rest of the flight. By the way, the service was great at this flight, so many nice stewards and stewardesses, unbelievable. I can only recommend China Airlines. The wine list, though, could be changed. OK, I did not try the champagne, a Drappier Brut which got 89 point from the wine spectator. There are much better Rieslings from the Mosel or the Saar to choose from. I would also replace one of the US wines with an Australian Shiraz maybe or a Merlot.

I watched a movie, read in my Tim Winton book (The Turning) and arrived in Taoyuan in no time, well rested, fed and happy.