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

Address:
Cantine Leonardo da Vinci
Via Provinciale di Mercatale, 291
50059 Vinci (FI) – ITALY
www.cantineleonardo.it


Restaurant review: Osteria Simon Boccanegra, Firenze, Italy

October 31, 2010

Ponte vecchio, Florence

For our first family visit to Florence my good friend Giuseppe Sepe had put together a selection of six “must do or must see if in Florence”.

These six locations were carefully marked on a little map Giuseppe had drawn for us. His suggestions did not disappoint. In fact we felt utterly privileged to have this little treasure map in our hands.

One of the suggestions was Osteria Simon Boccanegra. We went there for dinner. As instructed, we asked for Tommaso, a good friend of Giuseppe, who as Giuseppe said “would treat us like royalty” (which in fact he did – thank you Tommaso for this memorable evening).

There are actually (at least) three Boccanegras: the ristorante, the osteria and the pizzeria (there is an enoteca as well), all of which offer quite distinct and different menus to their customers. We were drawn by the allure of the food of rural Florence, manifesting itself in the Osteria Boccanegra menu.

Furthermore, Tommaso spoilt us from the outset with a couple of glasses of spumante (bubbly) first, and some selected delicacies later. Then we moved on to a selection of traditional Florentine “primi piatti”, dishes to get started with. They reflected the charm of a truly rustic Florence.

We had raw vegetables, some white bread with liver pate, and a selection of local cheeses with kumquat and other jams all of which were super delicious.

Raw vegetables

Liver on bread

Various cheeses with marmalades

After that we moves on to pasta. I ordered gnocchi al ragu, one of my favourites. Margit had papardelle with rabbit, and the girls chose spinach ravioli with ricotta cheese.

Spinich ravioli with ricotta

Papardelle with rabbit

Gnocchi al ragu

Then came the absolute highlight of the evening, the “bistecca Fiorentina”. Goodness me, we had almost no space left for more food but this beef was heavenly. Look at the picture of the steak below with its mouth watering faculties.

Bistecca Fiorentina

As regards the choice of wine, we were constrained or shall I say conditioned by a wine tasting with Giuseppe in Bangkok. He served us a bottle of Tignanello some time ago which we had not forgotten (how can you forget a Super Tuscan like this?). Of course Boccanegra listed Tignanello on their (extensive and very interesting) wine list.

So the choice was made quickly and a bottle of ‘2006 Tignanello’ by Villa Antinori was ordered.

The waitress opening the bottle

Wine decantered

2006 Tignanello by Antinori

Tignanello, bottle with the cork

I was amazed how skilful one could open such a bottle of wine. The cork would remain “encapsulated” so to say. The waitress decantered our Super Tuscan, and then we were ready. Great job. I have never seen such art elsewhere.

The wine is just beautiful, consisting of 85% Sangiovese, 10 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc grapes. Tignanello was the first Super Tuscan which was made that way. Traditionally all grapes are Sangiovese. No white grapes are used for the blend.

All the fruit is estate grown and comes from a vineyard also named Tignanello covering 47 ha. The vines grow on 350-400 meter altitude on limestone and red tuffaceous soil.

2006 was a great vintage, quality and quantity wise. After the normal fermentation, the wine is put in barriques where the malolactic fermentation takes place. After the blending the wine can age in oak barrels for about 12 months.

The wine is dark red with aromas of red fruit and berries. It has fine tannins and is elegant with a good structure and length. I just love the finish with is smooth and round like good chocolate. This was only my second bottle of Tignanello but the lust for more is lying in wait.

Tommaso with the Adam family

Occasionally we review our family holiday experience by rating the places we have visited. Boccanegra (the Osteria to be precise) came out on top of our Italy visit which did not come as a surprise. There was only one other restaurant which came close to it. But more about this another time.

If you visit Florence please feel free to use Giuseppe’s map. It is worth it to explore “his” Florence in 48 hours. And if you happen to bump into Tommaso, say hello to him. By the way, he loves Thailand, Bangkok and Thai cuisine.

Address:
Simon Boccanegra
Ristorante, Osteria, Pizzeria
Via Verdi 27/r and Via Ghibellina 124/r
50122 Firenze/Florence, Italy
Tel.: +39-55-2001090
Fax: +39-55-2263038
E-mail: boccanegra@boccanegra.com
www.boccanegra.com
Closed on Sundays!!!!


I Due Fratellini – Best Tuscan sandwiches and wine

October 27, 2010

The roofs of Florence

Another “must see” on our map of Florence was “I Due Fratellini” where the best Tuscan sandwiches and wines are on offer. Indeed the sandwiches were awesome, fresh and tasty with ample choice for meat and cheese lovers as well as for vegetarians.

We had a couple of glasses of very decent Pinot Griggio with the food.

I Due Fratellini – long queues

The crowds are manageable at lunchtime but be prepared to queue for a while. It is advisable to get there early, let’s say 11:30 h or so. We sat on the pavement on the other side of the small lane in which I Due Fratellini is located.

I Due Fratellini

The prices are very reasonable. The service is great, fast and friendly. What I liked that we could drink the wine from real wine glasses and not some kind of plastic etc. cup. You just return the wine glasses when you have finished you drink. Very nice indeed.

The place is easy to find. Check it our when in Florence next time.

Address:
I Due Fratellini
Via dei Cimatori 38/r
50122 Firenze, Italy
+39-552396096
Opening hours:Mon.-Sat. 09-20h
www.iduefratellini.com


Enoteca Baldovino, Florence, Italy

October 24, 2010

Basilica di S. Croce, Firenze

Welcome to Firenze. The photo above shows the Basilica di S. Croce in the side street to the left of which you will bump into a wine bar and restaurant called “Baldovino”.

The counter of Enoteca Baldovino

The inside of Enoteca Baldovino

Food and wine sideboard

The No. 5 “must see place” on Giuseppe’s Firenze map was Baldovino, a ristorante/pizzeria with a wine bar (an enoteca) next to it. We patronized the “enoteca” to have a glass of wine. It was a late afternoon with a blue sky and beautiful sunshine.

The waiter was very friendly and made us feel at home immediately. We ordered a bottle of white. It was hot and white wine seemed the right stuff to get ready for another splendid evening in Florence.

Enoteca Baldovino is a very lovely place to hang out on a warm evening. If you are hungry you can just walk over to the restaurant Baldovino next door. One can also sit outside in the piazza and watch the passers by on their evening “passagiata”.

An interesting wine cooler

‘2009 La Segreta Bianco’ by Planeta, Sicilia

We ordered a bottle of ‘2009 La Segreta Bianco’ by Planeta, Sicilia. This is an easy drinking blend of various grape varieties but with the bulk coming from the Grecianico grape.

The back label

Happy customers

Address:
Enoteca Baldovino
Via S. Giuseppe 22 e
Florence, Italy


Giuseppe’s map of Firenze – God must have been a Florentine

October 23, 2010

The map of Firenze according to Giuseppe Seppe

When we announced to our Italian friend Giuseppe who lived for a long time in Florence, that we intended to visit his town, he was ecstatic. There are many things to see in Florence but we had only a weekend. How to make informed choices about the places to visit?

Here comes Giuseppe. He drew us a map, on it six places he considers a “must see”. In my subsequent blog entries I will introduce some of these places, especially the “foody” ones.

Of the six entries, four were related to food and drink, two were historic (Palazzo Medici Riccardi and Museo Nazionale del Bargello). They were:

1. I Due Fratellini: Tuscan sandwiches and wine shop
2. Boccanegra: restaurant with Tuscan specialities
3. Baldovino: Antipasti, pizza and fine wines
4. Pasticceria Artigianale Cobi: Florentine cakes and other local sweets

We did not have sufficient time to check out the “pasticceria” but patronized the other three places. I tell you that they were all worth the visit.

Thank you Giuseppe for these insider tips. We just loved your recommendations.


Brunello di Montalcino and pasta

November 27, 2009

2004 Pietroso Brunello di Montalcino

Just a simple dinner with a pasta and a salad. I grabbed a bottle of red from the wine fridge and woh, where did I buy this wine? It was a ripper of a red, ‘2004 Brunello di Montalcino’ by Pietroso (about 100 km south of Florence in Tuscany).

Aged for 36 months in oak barrels, this 100% Sangiovese wine is just a wonderful drop. Intense forest fruit flavours, great structure, good mid-palate weight and a long finish, round and silky. It took us by surprise.

A delicious pasta

We had just a simple pasta for an ordinary dinner during the week. When I went back to the supermarket the next day to look for this wine, I could not find it any more. I know why: it’s marvelous. Look out for this Brunello di Montalcino. It’s worth it. Azienda Agricola Pietroso produced 2004 about 13,000 bottles of this Brunello. I think it was one of the best wines we had had recently.