“University” at The Four Seasons, Florence

Dec 07, 11 “University” at The Four Seasons, Florence

Posted by in Food and Wine, Hotels and Spas, Travel

I went to The Four Seasons University in Florence, Italy. How’s that for an alma mater? Seriously, I was invited to take part in what they term their “university” to learn more about The Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels and, in this particular session, showcasing the regional and artisanal food and wine on offer. With hotels scattered around the globe, the 2 day session was aimed at getting to know about The Four Seasons in Asia, Africa and Europe. The Four Seasons flew in General Managers from Budapest to Paris, Beirut to Doha and everywhere in between for us to chat with and find out more about what makes each hotel unique from a culinary and vinous point of view. What I found was that each one tailored the guests experience to the locale. From Paris to Prague, the hotels try to give the guests a luxury wine and dine experience while still maintaining links with the city they are in. For example, in Prague, they may be in an international hotel but offer plenty of local delicacies in their restaurants as well as offering international cuisine. Paris on the other hand, guests expect a gourmet experience and, dining in the George V’s 3-Michelin starred restaurant with a world class wine cellar, guests won’t be disappointed. The Florence Four Seasons is no different. A spectacular oasis in the middle of the city, set within a walled garden covering 11 acres, it took seven years to renovate the 15th century Palazzo Della Gherardesca and the adjacent convent. I loved the original mosaic floors in the Palazzo as well as the original frescos and paintings that have been restored to their former glory. It’s fantastic to be surrounded by such beauty. Florence pulled out all the stops for us to show off the best that the hotel and the region had to offer. The Florence property has the palazzo and a smaller building, il Conventino, on the other side of the garden. The first night, the...

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Chianti Classico ’05

Chianti. Cheap and cheerful, comes in a wicker covered bottle, which, when empty, make handy candle holders. Well, that might be the old image of Chianti, and you can probably still buy that type of wine, but last weekend we had a tasting of Chianti Classico at the shop to dispel those hoary old myths and a bit of food and wine pairing with Italian salami and mature English cheddar. Chianti is the name of the region in Italy where the wine is from, not the name of the grape. The Italians like to confuse us as much as the French when it comes to naming their wines. There are two types of Chianti, Chianti and Chianti Classico (click here for more info). Chianti Classico is the oldest region, located in the heart of Tuscany. Chianti is made up of primarily the varietal sangiovese with the local varieties canaiolo and colorino also used in the blend. Up to 20% can be added in Chianti Classico and 25% in Chianti. There are all sorts of rules and regulations governing the production and making of Chianti (click here if you’re really interested) but I’m going to focus on the three we had on Saturday. First up was a Chianti, for a bit of compare and contrast, the ’06 Veduta, a blend of sangiovese and canaiolo, spending 3 months in large oak barrels, produced by the Casa Girelli, one of Italy’s largest privately owned wineries who produce 95% of their wine for the overseas market. This was an easy, approachable red, a simple, uncomplicated, red fruit nose followed by bright cherry and lively tannins on the palate. It had a short, slightly green finish. A good guzzler to go with a cheesy Saturday nite pizza. Then we moved onto the Classicos. What a world of difference. Everyone who tried the Veduta liked it until they tried the Classico. Piave di Spaltenna ’05 was the first classico. The vineyards are situated in the heart of the oldest district...

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