In October 2011, 8 members of the kitchen and Eaterie teams from both hotels and I were given the opportunity to spend 3 days in Tuscany, Italy, to experience all that Toscana has to offer.
Upon arrival at Pisa airport we headed straight to our first destination of Cantine Leonardo.
Although we know the Cantine wines very well and have listed their Chianti Leonardo for many years, it is always good to re-familiarise and explore their vast portfolio of wines. Cantine is a Co-Operative winery based in Vinci, birth town of Leonardo di Vinci. They have around 150 separate growers, all of whom help to produce the best possible fruit. They are renowned for paying more euros per tonne for the “best fruit” rather than the “most fruit” from their growers.
They have a range of different wines including Reserva Chianti’s, Brunello's from Montalchino and Vin Santo. (Which you will find in our Vin Santo ice cream..)
The next port of call was Capezzana.
Capezzana is a family run winery with 3 generations currently taking care of the day to day running of the estate. It sits on the mountains overlooking Florence and Prato. The cellars are some of the eeriest I have ever been to, they were cold, dark, damp and vast. Looking around here is something special. You can feel the history, love and care that they have for their wines here. Seeing a bottle “Chianti Carmignano” from 1968 was especially interesting as you will never see this now because of the change in the laws of Carmignano, giving the area it's own identity. The Vin Santo room was also special, as they have bottles of every vintage since the family took over the estate in the 60's. So all of us of course, were looking for our respective birth years and asking "was this a good year???"- They must get really bored of people asking that!
We have a great fondness for the wines from Capezzana, currently listing the Barco Reale di Carmignano and Villa di Capezzana. The Vin Ruspo rose made with 80% Sangiovese was one of the favourites from all of us which is why we are listing it for our Tuscan month.
While staying at Capezzana we were also lucky enough to learn a few tricks of the trade in the kitchen with their chef.
We spent a morning cooking traditional Toscana dishes including; Florentine crostini, ragu Toscana, pappa al pomodoro and of course, gnocchi and fresh pasta. Even our front of house guys have no excuse for not cooking now!
The last day was spent at one of our old favourites, Fontodi. Fontodi is situated in Panzano, right in the middle of the Chianti Classico appellation, known as the "golden shell". The Fontodi Flachinello is one of my favourite wines, that year on year impresses us. Terroir is very evident in these wines and something that Fontodi are constantly improving. Fontodi is now following biodynamic principles meaning all their current vintages are 100% organic. We also list their Chianti Classico and Vigna del Sorbo.
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