Raymond Blake

wine writer

Raymond Blake

wine writer

Raymond Blake

wine writer

Raymond Blake

wine writer

Burgundy

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“Sangliers sur la ligne,” said the announcement as the TGV, France’s high-speed train, ground to a halt somewhere between Paris and Burgundy. We got a good view of the wild boar, about a dozen of them, as they left the tracks and sauntered across a field before disappearing into some forest. Then we were on our way again. Read More...
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Taste of Tuscany

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Oh, to be a crow in Tuscany, land of the rolling hill and the ever-winding road. Your destination is glimpsed long before you reach it, particularly if it is a hilltop town such as the multi-towered San Gimignano. Read More...
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Wine Fraud!

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Fake: a thing that is not genuine; a forgery or sham.
Counterfeit: a fraudulent imitation of something else.

Call them what you will but the bottles of Domaine Ponsot wines consigned for sale at an Acker, Merrall & Condit auction in New York on 25th April 2008 were definitely not genuine. Most definitely not. Read More...
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Screwcap - Cork's Saviour?

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The cork industry should welcome the Stelvin screwcap closure as a saviour, not a villain. A bold statement, yes, but picture this: when Food & Wine came on the scene 15 years ago cork ruled the roost; never was a screwcap seen in any of our tastings. But it was a despotic rule Read More...
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Go West

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When the dark days of January finally show some signs of brightening into spring, and a month of prayer and fasting draws to a close, it is time to go west for some much needed indulgence… Read More...
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Show Stoppers

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Last weekend’s Food & Wine Magazine Christmas Show at the RDS attracted great crowds and from my point of view it was certainly the most successful to date. Never before have I had such a wide range of wines from which to choose my matches for the dishes being cooked by a host of Ireland’s leading chefs on the Chefs’ Stage. Read More...
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Forget Sherry!

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Say instead: Fino, manzanilla, amontillado, palo cortado, oloroso… Can any other wine style or region boast such a splendid a quintet of evocative, mellifluous names as this? Roll them on your tongue, savour them, hear how they resonate. To lump them all together under the prosaic term ‘sherry’ seems such a travesty. Read More...
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The Douro Valley

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As befits the world’s oldest demarcated wine region, the Douro Valley makes mincemeat of any descriptive superlative hurled at it, no matter how poetic it might be. Established only by dint of soul-destroying toil in torrid summers and bitter winters, it can safely be asserted that if it was still virgin territory today nobody in their right mind would think of planting vines there. Read More...
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Natural Wine

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The wine world always needs a fiery debate to sink its teeth into; under-garments were once tied in knots when the use, or overuse, of new oak was discussed; then came the cork v screwcap debate, which now simmers on a back burner, allowing for rational rather than hot-headed debate. Step forward ‘natural’ wine Read More...
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Argentina Part II

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Despite appearances there’s wine beyond Mendoza, Argentina’s principal region that accounts for the lion’s share of production, and garners most of the attention from trade and consumers in the process. Down south there’s Patagonia, which, between its sub regions, Río Negro and Neuquén, is home to about 4,500 hectares of vineyard. Read More...
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Argentina Part I

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Remember the Renault 12? The small family saloon with the funny, ski-slope boot that has all but disappeared from Irish roads? Well, it still rules in Argentina, specifically the city of Mendoza, capital of that vast country’s eponymous principal wine region – as I had plenty of time to observe when stuck in early morning traffic on my way to the Luigi Bosca winery recently. Read More...
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Champagne

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Champagne. There is no other name or phrase in the whole world of wine that can generate the same response as enunciation of that single word: ‘Champagne’. Thoughts of celebration, images of carefree bounty, success, romance, good fellowship all bubble to the surface at the mention of it, just as surely as the bubbles in the wine itself. Read More...
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World Gourmet Summit - Singapore


The double-decker Airbus A380 really is a big plane and you only realise how big as you wait in the departure lounge ready to board, along with hundreds of other passengers who, you tell yourself, must obviously be destined to board three or four separate flights. Not a bit of it. The plane easily swallows up a crowd that looks as if it could go a long way towards filling the Aviva Stadium. Apart from that it is pretty ordinary, much like any other plane, unless, that is, you are sequestered in luxury up front, a treat that will have to wait for the day I win the Lotto. Read More...
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Gourmet Abu Dhabi


Terror, pure and refined, is not what you expect when attending a gourmet festival. When that festival takes place in Abu Dhabi, however, and when a visit to Ferrari World, home to the world’s fastest roller coaster is on the programme, that is precisely what you get. An agonising 92 seconds on this vicious, snaking monster brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘white knuckle ride’. Enough said. Read More...
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White Mischief


You can tell by the colour. Honey-gold when it should be no deeper than full yellow. And the smell. Caramel, marzipan and nuts. In other words heavy, sweet and full, like a cheap perfume, with no ‘brightness’, no fruity tingle. The taste follows on dismally from this sad litany: lacking in life and ‘bounce’, usually low in acidity, plodding rather than fresh, fit only for flinging down the sink, certainly not to be sipped and savoured. I speak of prematurely oxidised white Burgundy. Read More...
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Mister Riedel


When it comes to polish, probably the only thing shinier than an elegant Riedel wine glass is Mr Riedel himself. Scion of the family dynasty, Maximilian J Riedel, visited Dublin before Christmas to present a pair of master classes for the trade and general public. Read More...
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The House of Krug


Krugist(e): Noun, m/f, a lover of Krug champagne, completely besotted by the richness and depth of the style, regards other prestige cuvées, especially the ‘bling’ ones, with complete disdain, has a tendency to bore when speaking on the subject, recently worried that Krug has become more user friendly, less forbidding and, heaven forfend, more ‘popular’. Takes childish delight in telling friends that it does not rhyme with ‘jug’, it is Krug as in ‘Kroog’.

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Austria Moves Forward


Austria is on a roll. In 2009, as the world economy tumbled into the abyss, her wine exports reported a healthy increase of 16%, achieved at a time when all other Austrian exports declined by 20%. Leading the charge were traditional markets such as Germany and Switzerland, while relative newcomers like the Netherlands, Sweden and Japan all posted healthy increases. Read More...
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The Douro Boys



There is nowhere like the Douro Valley. Nowhere. Words and superlatives are stretched to breaking point to describe it and then discarded when found to be totally useless. The message is simple: if you are going to visit only one wine region in your life and you want stunning, rugged, raw, primal beauty then get yourself to the Douro. The vistas here are not picture postcard pretty. The vineyards are not manicured. No make-up has been applied. Read More...
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Veneto - One Coin, Two Sides


The coin that is the Veneto region of Italy presents two radically different faces to the world. Firstly, there is Soave, fruity and perfumed and all too easily dismissed as bland and insipid. Secondly, and way out at the other end of the style spectrum, is Amarone, Valpolicella’s ultimate expression. They could hardly be more different, one from the other. Read More...
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Hospices de Beaune Auction - November 2009



It is early afternoon on Sunday 15th November 2009 in Beaune, wine capital of Burgundy, and a gentle drizzle is falling. By rights the streets should be deserted, with all good citizens comfortably enjoying the family lunch, perhaps breaking out a runny époisses or a fragrant comté once the main course has been dispatched. Read More...
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Future Gazing - Wine to 2020


I tend to bristle when people tell me that studying history is a waste of time: “All those dates and battles that you have to memorise – what’s the use of that?” I try to explain that it is much more than that, pointing out that the proper study of history enables us to see forward by looking back. Read More...
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Mosel Magic


Exactly six years ago I wrote: “…to evince an interest in wine in general while ignoring German Riesling is like claiming to study literature while disregarding poetry.” Those words remain as true today as they were then, yet an alarming number of wine drinkers continue to disregard the poetry. In Germany’s Mosel region (also known as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) the poetry reaches a peak of perfection that is unmatched by any other wine region in the world. Reaching such heights, however, is no easy task and calls for a high-wire balancing act between sweetness and acidity. Veer in favour of the former and you end up with sugar-water. Over-emphasise the latter and the result is a teeth-jarring concoction utterly devoid of charm. Get it right and every sip of your wine tingles with excitement. Read More...
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Driving to Burgundy



Those vineyards qualify as some of the most fragmented and parcellated in the world. Thanks to the Napoleonic code of inheritance, holdings are continuously divided between all heirs. Add to this changes of ownership through marriage and purchase and the whole patchwork becomes baffling in the extreme. Read More...
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Fowl Play


It is Easter Monday in Burgundy and the temperature is hovering around zero. Snow has been falling gently since midnight and now the fields and vineyards are generously blanketed. The bare branches of the trees carry a thick icing of snow too, but the roads have remained clear and traffic is moving easily. Except, that is, for those hardy gastronomes who are driving to La Ferme de la Ruchotte for their lunch. Read More...
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