Food and Wine Tasting Masterclass in Chartres, France
18 – 21 SEPTEMBER 2014
Exploring the Food and Wine of the Beauce and the Loire Valley
with James Flewellen and Jonell Galloway
Through a series of tutored workshops, this 4-day weekend workshop will help unlock your tastebuds and introduce the richness of aromas, flavors and textures present in food and wine. Our exploration is enabled through local food from the Beauce and wine from the Loire Valley and coincides with the Chartres Festival of Lights and the Autumnal Equinox.
Our Tasting Masterclasses will concentrate on food and wine from the surrounding region. Chartres is located in the Beauce, the bread basket of France – and one might say, Europe – so bakeries use local flour and compete for not only the best baguette, but the best bread in general, giving rise to a plethora of types of bread you’ll find no where else in France nor in the world. Other crops grown in these vast, flat fields include sugar beets and all sorts of root vegetables, many not found elsewhere. The flat wheat fields are not propitious to dairy cows, so cheeses are limited, but we have access to cheese from the best local artisanal cheesemakers. Pigs live in perfect harmony alongside the wheat fields, as do wild and domesticated fowl, so many of the meat dishes are based on them.
In today’s Chartres, Loire Valley wine is considered local, since the Loire region starts about 45 minutes down the road and no wine is grown in Chartres due to the climate. As a result, the local sommeliers and wine merchants specialize in Loire Valley wine. Our tasting will focus on the “art of tasting” in general, starting with our perceptions of taste in food, and working up to our perceptions of tasting wine. The two are inseparable, since wine can only be appreciated to the maximum when paired with food.
Some of the food tasting masterclass will be based on scientific research, but most on an intuitive approach, where you will become aware of why you like and dislike certain foods, textures, smells, etc. in food, with hands-on workshops to help you understand the complexity and individuality of taste in general.
For us, food should be a pleasure, and Western culture has neglected to train our taste buds by feeding us too much processed food. This workshop will help you reawaken your taste buds and sensory perception of food so that you will go away with a different perception of what real food is. Tasting will become a conscious process that not only serves the purpose of filling your belly, but brings you pleasure and enjoyment that industrial food will no longer satisfy.
Through a series of tutored wine tastings you will learn how professionals taste wine, what makes a ‘good’ wine, and about the aromatic, flavour and structural components of wine and how they interact with food. We will also focus on local wines through an in-depth Masterclass on wines of the Loire, as well as pairing these wines with cheeses, main courses and desserts throughout the weekend. Please note that all lunches and dinners, as well as wines, are included in the price.
The course coincides with the Autumnal Equinox – traditionally a time of celebration of the harvest and an ideal occasion to taste the best of the region.
Click here to book.
James Flewellen, Master Wine Taster
Dr James Flewellen is a biophysicist at the University of Oxford. James learned his trade in taste through the Oxford Blind Wine Tasting Society, of which he was the President from 2010-2012. During his term, he represented Oxford at many international blind tasting competitions – twice winning the prestigious ‘Top Taster’ Award in the annual Varsity blind tastingmatch against Cambridge University and captaining winning teams in competitions throughout Europe. Reporting on the 58th Varsity match in the Financial Times, Jancis Robinson MW described him as ‘the most impressive taster of the lot’.
One of James’s goals is to clarify the complex and hard-to-navigate world of wine for both novice and experienced tasters. He applies his scientific training to wine education, illuminating concepts of taste, tannin and terroir in an approachable, entertaining manner. James runs wine education courses in Oxford through the and is completing the WSET Professional Diploma in Wine and Spirits. He is the regular wine writer for The Rambling Epicure and is the founder of The Oxford Wine Blog. He is also the co-author of The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting – a book surveying the wine regions of the world and how to blind taste.
Jonell Galloway, Master Food Taster
Jonell Galloway studied classic French cooking at the L’Ecole du Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, and wine tasting at Steven Spurrier’s Academie du Vin in Paris, doing numerous wine internships all over France, and at CAVE S.A. in Geneva and Gland in Switzerland. In France, she worked for some years as a contributing editor for the English edition of the GaultMillau restaurant and hotel guide and as a food translator, while running a small cooking school called “Spontaneous Cuisine” in a château near Paris, and now, at a 1,000-year-old chapel converted into her home in Chartres.
She divides her time between Chartres and Geneva, where she is ambassadress for Les Artisanes de la Vigne et du Vin, the Swiss women’s wine producers association, and is active in Slow Food. She publishes the real food and wine site The Rambling Epicure, an e-zine for cultured gastronomes. She is also an active member of IACP, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and works as a freelance writer for numerous food and travel publications.
Her recent publications include Ma Cuisine Méditerranéenne in collaboration with Christophe Certain and Le tour du monde en 80 pains / Around the World with 80 Breads published by Orphie, in collaboration with Jean-Philippe de Tonnac. She also collaborated on a review of the life work of Swiss sculptor André Raboud, published by Edipresse.