France and Italy’s relationship through time, wine & food
PROGRAM FOR 4-DAY MASTERCLASS TASTING WEEKEND IN CHARTRES
with Jonell Galloway and James Flewellen
4th to 7th October 2018
——- Course Overview
FRANCE AND ITALY ARE TITANS OF EUROPEAN culinary culture. The nations of today are inheritors of rich culinary traditions that are the result of millennia of interweaving relationships between the peoples who inhabit these lands. This is a process that predates even the Romans and continues very much into the 21st century.
Over this four-day weekend, we explore the culinary and vinous relationships between France and Italy from Roman times through to today. We will look at what each nation has gifted the other through various lenses, including food, drink and culinary culture.
The masterclass involves sumptuous feasting, tutored wine tastings, and intellectual discussion. Bring your taste buds, something to say and a willingness to learn!
Exploring the Food and Wine of the Beauce and the Loire Valley
Award-winning wine writer, James Flewellen, and Cordon Bleu-educated cook and food journalist, Jonell Galloway, present wine and food tasting masterclasses in the historic French city of Chartres. Comprising dedicated wine tastings, sumptuous meals made from local ingredients paired with regional Loire Valley wines and a unique, “sense-awakening” taste experience, our food and wine holiday courses will help unlock your taste buds and introduce the richness of aromas, flavors and textures present in food and wine.
Courses conducted in English
All lunches, dinners, and wine included
We use only the highest quality, locally-sourced produce and ingredients
Over 10 hours of professional food and wine tasting instruction
Taste over 20 (4-day course) different wines from the Loire Valley
Learn the art of food and wine pairing
Dine and learn in a 1,000-year-old converted chapel
Socialize with like-minded wine- and food-lovers
Experience the atmosphere of the Chartres Festival of Lights in a UNESCO World Heritage site
Guided city tour & collection from the station included
Taste Unlocked Autumn Equinox 2015 in Chartres, France
Taste Unlocked 2015 was a great success. Our guests have returned to England, but the house reverberates with the still-fresh memories of their presence and the joys of good food, fine wine and the excellent company we shared. Happy souvenirs of their visit, a few unfinished bottles we tasted will be emptied in coming days, but we shall toast our special guests each time we partake.
I prepared traditional dishes from the Beauce region, using the recipes I’ve researched over the years and the best products from local farmers and producers. These were accompanied by what we consider our local wine, that of the Loire Valley, which starts less than 50 miles down the road from here.
We kicked off the weekend on Thursday over a dinner of locally farmed duck cooked in Eure-et-Loire apple cider and served with Beauce turnips and carrots and apples. This was followed by a curried green gauge plum sautée with Financier almond cake.
SEPTEMBER 17-20, 2015, DURING AUTUMN EQUINOX AND LIGHT FESTIVAL IN CHARTRES, FRANCE
Award-winning wine writer James Flewellen and Cordon Bleu-educated cook and food journalist Jonell Galloway present food and wine tasting masterclasses in the historic French city of Chartres. Comprising dedicated wine tastings, sumptuous meals made from local ingredients paired with regional Loire Valley wines and a unique, “sense-awakening” taste experience, our food and wine holiday courses will help unlock your taste buds and introduce the richness of aromas, flavours and textures present in food and wine. A music festival, with live music in the streets, restaurants, theatres, churches and bars, is held to celebrate the Autumn Equinox and to mark the end of the Festival of Lights. To sign up, please click here or fill in the contact form below.
The Concise Guide to Wine & Blind Tasting is destined to become a modern classic. Written by Neel Burton, psychiatrist and Oxford professor, and James Flewellen, biophysicist at Oxford – together founders of the Oxford Wine Academy — the book is well stocked with vital information about all aspects of wine, from soil and vine to drinking for pleasure and blind tasting.
Its clear, detailed information will appeal to serious amateurs and experienced professionals alike. The first three chapters tackle the history of wine as well as the principles of viticulture and winemaking, using an approach unique to the authors, reflecting their methodical way of thinking and scientific backgrounds. This section serves as a comprehensive, accessible introduction for less seasoned wine drinkers, giving them a firm technical basis and the curiosity to want to continue learning.
The ensuing twenty-three chapters address the world’s geographic regions, including three dedicated to notable French appellations, sparkling wine and fortified wine, respectively. Chapters are well structured, dealing with the lie of the land, climate, soil, grape varieties, appellations, and wine styles, and give thorough attention to each of these components. The authors explain how to differentiate wines based on the interplay of these factors, and address the effect of appearance, palate and nose and how these interact with one’s senses and perceptions. This section serves as a reference for even the most seasoned wine drinker.
For those interested in blind tasting, the appendices explain how to set up a blind tasting, and include crib sheets by grape and terroir — a most useful reference for those interested in honing their skills — along with international classification systems and food and wine matching.
This is both a user’s manual and a connoisseur’s guide, and its clear and fluent exposition sets it apart from other guides. You’ll keep this reference book on your shelf; its pages will yellow (and possibly purple) and show their wear and tear. You might even pass it on to your grandchildren. That’s how good it is.
3-DAY TASTE AWAKENING COURSE 19-21 JUNE,
DURING CHARTRES SUMMER SOLSTICE MUSIC FESTIVAL
Award-winning wine writer, James Flewellen, and Cordon Bleu-educated chef and food journalist, Jonell Galloway, present wine and food tasting masterclasses in the historic French city of Chartres. Compromised dedicated wine tastings, sumptuous meals made from local ingredients paired with regional Loire Valley wines and a unique, ‘sense-awakening’ taste experience, our food and wine holiday courses will help unlock your taste buds and introduce the richness of aromas, flavours and textures present in food and wine. A music festival, with live music in the streets, restaurants, theatres, churches and bars, is held to celebrate the Summer Solstice. If you’re interested in signing up, please click here.
Pork is a great meat to play with for wine pairing. Depending on the cut of the animal, how it is cooked and the sauce accompanying the dish you have a whole wealth of wines from which to choose. Red wine, white wine, dry and savoury, off-dry and fruity; there are many options.
One of my favourite choices and one I think works very well with this recipe is an Alsatian or New Zealand Pinot Gris. These are full-bodied, rich white wines with a pear and honey bouquet that is the perfect foil for pork in such a sauce. The honey and fruit notes in the wine echo the honey and vanilla flavours in the sauce; the richness of the palate counteracts the piquant mustard and coriander seeds; the body carries enough weight to handle the meatiness of the dish; and the wine brings forth enough acidity to cut through the fat in the fillet and the sauce. Try for a wine with at least 5 years age and you’ll notice truffle and mushroom notes developing to add an additional level of complexity.
About James Flewellen
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 tasting match against Cambridge University and captaining winning teams in competitions throughout Europe.
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 Oxford Wine Academy 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 currently co-authoring The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting – a book surveying the wine regions of the world and how to blind taste.
With over 1,300(!) vine varieties out there making commercial wine, it’s a tough task to narrow down to only 10. Nevertheless, here are my ‘top 10’ white wine producing grapes. The order is my own preference, based on commercial importance, potential quality of the grape and whether it produces a ‘classic style’.
Bodega Granbazán en las Rías Baixas, producer of Albariño
Perhaps a controversial start to the list, Albariño is a rising star in my book. The grape can produce well-balanced aromatic, peachy wines with fresh acidity, suitable as an aperitif or with fish and vegetarian dishes. It’s not yet grown much outside its native Galicia in Spain (and parts of Portugal), yet its stature is certainly on the up and much interest is being shown in growing the grape in a number of new world countries.
A very distinctive grape producing ‘love-em or hate-em’ wines. Gewurztraminer has its spiritual home in Alsace, France, though can be found throughout Central Europe and in many new world countries. The grape is typically pink-skinned and produces an abundance of sugars in the right growing conditions. This leads to deeply-coloured, rich, full-bodied wines – many of which are off-dry, or even sweet. Gewurztraminer wines are flamboyantly fragrant with unmistakable notes of lychee, pot pourri and sometimes cloves.
Viognier grapes ripening on a vine in Amador county, California.
Another full-bodied, distinctively aromatic wine. Viognier brings forth characteristic notes of peach, apricot and ginger. The very best examples come from the tiny appellation of Condrieu, in the Rhône Valley in France. However, it is found in the blended white wines of southern France, and increasingly in the new world. A single producer in the Barossa, South Australia — Yalumba — could be credited with re-popularising this grape and bringing it to a new audience in the modern era.
One of the common themes running through my wine education courses and writings is that you, the taster, are the final authority on whether you like a wine or not. While I can tell you whether a wine is well made, and give my perception of the aromas, flavours and structure of a wine, I can’t get inside your head to assess your perception of a wine or whether you like it or not.
There are, however, some objective guidelines on assessing a wine for its quality. These are espoused by the WSET and various other wine educators and can be remembered easily by the acronym ‘BLIC‘.
B is for balance. A well-balanced wine will have a consistency between the aromas you smell and flavours you taste. The acidity will match the body of the wine and any sweetness. It won’t be sharp and unpleasant; nor will it be flabby and soft. The alcohol will suit the body of the wine and not be too harsh nor weak. If a wine has been aged in oak, then the level of oak will support the natural fruit flavours rather than overwhelm them. One factor that should be taken into consideration is the age of a wine and when it is expected to be drunk. A barrel sample of a very fine wine will not necessarily be in balance, yet it should be by the time the wine is ready to be drunk a decade later. One of the hardest jobs I’ve seen in the wine business is that of winemakers assess their newly-fermented wine and to make decisions on how to mature it based on their projections of how the wine will develop.
The length of the wine is straightforward. Simply: the longer the better. After swallowing, the finest wines will linger over your senses for many tens of seconds, even minutes in some cases! The one caveat is that the remaining flavours should be enjoyable. I’ve had at least one occasion of a wine with a very bitter flavour and an unpleasantly long finish.
Intensity is the next criterion. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword in that an overly intense wine can be overwhelming in some cases. If a particular aroma or flavour dominates at the expense of the balance or complexity of the wine, then too much intensity is a bad thing. However, with this in mind, the best wines will have an intensity and concentration of flavour that is precise yet generous.
Finally, we have complexity. This is perhaps the most difficult criterion for a wine to achieve. Complexity in a wine begins with high quality grapes. The vineyard must be well tended and the grapes healthy before a winemaker can make great wine. The winemaker’s skill is in preserving the complex biochemicals that occur naturally in the grape, enhancing and concentrating them, while still maintaining balance. Further complexity in a wine is achieved through judicious use of oak for maturation. Finally, the time spent in bottle results in further subtle and complex chemical reactions that develop ever new flavours in a wine. The end result of a fine wine that is opened at its optimal age for drinking is a plethora of aromas and flavours that change and evolve in the glass. The exact aromas and sensations can be hard to describe, yet the finish always leaves you wanting more!
James Flewellen is The Rambling Epicure wine columnist. James is a biophysicist at the University of Oxford. Originally from New Zealand, the huge range of wine James discovered in Europe spurred his interest in all things vinous. He became involved in the University’s Blind Wine Tasting Society and has recently completed a two-year term as its President. During this time he represented the University in a number of domestic and international wine tasting competitions, winning several awards. He is currently completing the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits. James has a passion for wine communication and education and runs the Oxford Wine Blog and the Oxford Wine Academy.