Subtitled ‘The Road to Burgundy’
Published by Gotham Books (Penguin).
On trains and trams for the last couple of months I’ve been dipping into this book – Ray kindly thrust it into my hands the last time I saw him – and despite ~290 A5 pages, the chapters are relatively ‘bite-size’, so it was a perfect fit for such travel arrangements!
I’m pretty sure that most people here now know of Ray Walker; at his Maison Ilan he’s single-handedly redefined what an outsider can achieve in Burgundy, and his wines are quite good too! But a book? What next, a film? He’s already been practicing his camera-facing skills!
Not getting too far ahead of ourselves, let’s concentrate on the book… ‘Ray does Burgundy‘, as I shall henceforth refer to this book, is very much (to a British ear) a Disney book (or film? 🙂 ) of apparent worthiness, but this is also a fleeting tenor, because I was quickly wrapped up in the story, as opposed to the storytelling – and given the detail the book covers, Ray must have a hell of a memory for events and dialogue. Actually I knew quite a lot of the story from various meetings with Ray, but had assumed much of it wasn’t for print – how wrong I was – but Ray tells a good tale!
Of-course I know many of the book’s actors, but Ray does Burgundy is anyway a fascinating story, indeed book: It’s about destiny, the journey, serendipity, the odd psycho (clearly better than rogues, or at least in this particular case) and relationships, like wine, forged. Actually I think that Ray was more than a little lucky in his various dealings, as there are clearly more rogues than psychos – perhaps it was all good character judgement on his part!
Whilst many see Ray’s progress as nothing short of a miracle, I personally I have the impression that Burgundians are more open to outsiders than their fellow locals and I’ve no doubt that this was in Ray’s favour – had he not met a Leflaive or a Gouges (etcetera) there may have been other willing substitutes – but there can be no discounting that it takes effort, sacrifice, enthusiasm and eventually attention to detail, to do what Ray has done. In most things Ray clearly prefers, where possible, to have control of the narrative, but in the end (good book or bad book – though it IS a good book), Ray is first and foremost a wine-producer, so this is how I judge him, and given the quality of his wines, to-date, Ray seems to have that taped…