Back in the mid 90’s, when I was learning my Sommelier trade at Edinburgh’s Atrium restaurant under the tutelage of the late, great James Sankey, I was introduced to a supplier who was to change the way I looked at wines forever. Over the decades Zubair Mohamed has grown his family’s business Raeburn Fine Wines into one of the most admired and respected wine merchants in the United Kingdom.
It was through Zubair that my mind and palate were opened to the delights of Randall Grahm‘s Bonny Doon, Dirk Niepoort‘s well-aged Colheitas and Douro bottlings, Luc Thienpont‘s Right Bank rarities, Rod Berglund’s idiosyncratic Joseph Swan wines, Rochioli‘s Russian River Pinots, the Alsatian wonders of Rolly Gassman, the money pit that is Burgundy (notably my first tastes of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti), Springbank whisky, the glorious olfactory enigma that is Lebanon’s Château Musar, our biggest seller by the glass: Wakefield‘s “White Clare” (Crouchen/Chardonnay), Domaine Huet‘s classic aged Vouvrays (going back to 1932!), my first babysteps into Austrian wine with Willi Opitz, igniting my lifelong romance with Riesling with Germany’s Fritz Haag… the list goes on and on.
It is testament to Zubair’s subtle mentorship and guidance that I can actually recall all of this stuff!
He also introduced me to so many fascinating and colourful Winemakers and wine world folks… I’ll never forget my first encounter with the lovely Jancis Robinson MW when she was dining with Zubair. I was so bloody nervous I forgot I was supposed to be serving her 1982 Cheval Blanc blind… whoops. I’m not sure that he has ever truly forgiven me for that blunder.
It’s always so superb to see Zubair when I go back to visit my hometown, and upon this occasion I managed to cajole him into a little video interview.
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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he always looks forward to seeing Zubair as he still learns so much from him.
There’s an 8 year old Hazelburn (same company as Springbank) that is truly divine. But I’m much bigger fan of spirits than you.