So I am sat here in Mid-October and feeling bad that I have not managed to do much (almost any…) blogging this year. I sometimes think that the great success of Instagram has been at the expense of blogging (that and the fact there was a pandemic). I had though saved down a load of pictures of a quite stunning lunch back in April (April fools day in fact!). This was hosted and co-ordinated by the legend that is Newcastle with some input from his northern brethren Halifax. The venue was the Raby Hunt, somewhere you must make an effort to go. James Close, chef Patron is some talent and the dishes here were exquisite. Every bit as good as they look.

So, with the train to Darlington and then a taxi, we were in situ on a bright spring day. I tried to make notes but realised quickly that it was going to be difficult and would actually not add to the enjoyment so I parked the idea, assuming of course that I wouldn’t wait 6 months to write it up! It was a barrage of great dishes and epic wines. Many of the photos were not mine – thanks, in the main to Gary Birchtree.

Tartlet / Ceviche

1983 Salon en Magnum – just lovely, mags are certainly the way to go with the 1983, retaining more freshness. Long and saline.

Taco / Tartare

1999 La Tache, DRC, not sure I have ever had a DRC so early in a meal but it was such a treat. The 1999s being as wonderfully extrovert as ever and this was no exception. Drive and vigour.

Nigiri / Tempura / Pastrami

1973 R. Lopez de Heredia Rioja Blanco Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia – not wines I know anywhere nearly as well as I should but really good, complex, nutty, tangy and fine.

1986 Castillo Ygay, Blanco Gran Reserva Especial/Marques de Murrieta – same category as above, very good, waxy and rich, just super.

1985 Haut Brion Blanc – not a wine I often get to try except at En Primeur time. This is a joy, fresh and yet with that cheesecloth element and an easy weight, very proper. Maturity here adds so much.

Razor Clam

2016 Sancerre, Clos La Neore, Edmond Vatan – along with Cotat, Vatan has to be right at the top of the tree in the Loire. I love the balance of these wines, not that I get to have them often. They make a mockery of the “I don’t like Sauvignon Blanc crowd”.

2011 Sancerre, Clos La Neore, Edmond Vatan – I’ll be honest and say I enjoyed both vintages but without notes I can’t remember the differences.

Halibut / Lobster

1999 Bienvenues- Batard Montrachet, Domaine Leflaive – to have either of these two wines is a treat to say the least but to have them side by side is almost absurd. My love for BBM 1999 is not something I have hidden well – it is simply a marvelous wine.

2006 Corton-Charlemagne, Coche Dury – I think this is only the third time I have had Coche C-C. There is a reason it has the cache it does and drinking it makes that plain to see. Depth, precision allied to an almost gregarious core.


1978 Paul Jaboulet aîne Hermitage La Chapelle – what a great choice for the dish. A wine I have had before but I think only once, meaty and savoury but in no way clumsy. One of those wines you’ll always be excited to see.

2000 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva Monfortino – obviously I was delighted to see this. A different sort of savoury to the La Chapelle. Quite open with its trademark salty tang. A good showing.


1959 La Mission Haut Brion – as the picture of the uncooked beef suggests this was always going to be a good course! What an array of wines. The pair of the ’59 and ’61 at the top of the tree in Bordeaux is always going to be quite something. The ’59 here was a little more overt, higher toned and louder.

1961 La Mission Haut Brion – the 1961 was more savoury, a little less showy shall we say. Delicious.

1974 Heitz Martha’s Cabernet Sauvignon – something of legend made all the more so by the fact that anything European in 1974 was difficult to say the least. These older Californians are something to behold when you can find them. One of the judgement of Paris wines if I am not mistaken!

1989 Haut Brion – this hadn’t been on the teamsheet beforehand but why wouldn’t you drink it whenever you can!!

Mille feuille

1947 Vouvray, La Haut Lieu, Mouelleaux, premiere Trie, Domaine Huet – I hope it is not to stupid to say that I have little recollection of this. I have always been impressed by the older Huets that I have had. They seem like wines from another time, in a good sense.

Krug 1988 – it seems to have been decided that we were “light” on Champagne…Krug 1988 is an extreme bottle from an extreme vintage, rich and powerful in a way you don’t often find in Champagne.

And with that, and a lot of laughs, we were done. The eyes closed as we left the station, they opened again at St.Pancras…

Looking back through the WhatsApps around the time there was comment it was hard to disagree with “Wine of the day? 85 HBB, 99 Tache, 59 la Mission…” it is the “…” that tells the story, profoundly enjoyable!