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OP: Lafite

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by Cyril Ray

English war correspondent Cyril Ray (1908–1991) was among the many fine food and drink writers who emerged after WWII. Similarly to his contemporaries Charles Baker and Waverley Root, Ray’s particular interest—in his case, wine—developed as a result of travel and of a curious mind. 

In the 1950s Ray became editor of the popular The Compleat Imbiber, which led to contributions to Punch and other magazines. He became known for his fastidious writing and proceeded to write several historical monographs on the great wines of France. His style contrasts well with other wine writers of the era who were prone to opinionated musings on their personal enjoyment of wine. Ray favored the facts behind great vintages and eminent producers. His training as a journalist was a clear advantage and in no way inhibited his partaking of the finer things.  As he says himself, “A journalist, in any case, dines frequently above his station…”

We are offering a 1971 second US printing of Cyril Ray’s book on Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Lafite, originally published in London in 1968. Here he thoroughly covers the Médoc region where Lafite is located, its somewhat controversial classification as premier cru, the chateau, and the details of the production of the wine itself. No surprise that the former war correspondent takes a particular interest in the WWII period when the chateau was occupied by the Germans, during which time a resourceful bookkeeper, loyal to the Rothschilds, took it upon herself to effectively hide thousands of bottles of old vintages and sensitive family artifacts.

Our copy is in Very Good condition with a previous owner’s name written neatly on the front free endpaper.  The jacket, though scuffed about the edges, is intact and bears a one-and-a-half inch closed tear to the front; it has been placed in a mylar sleeve to prevent further damage. Thoughtful and engaging work for the historically inclined.

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