Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Wine Lectures, Speaking Engagements and Tutored Tastings

Robin Blackburne, M.W.

Robin Blackburne was educated in England and later at Bordeaux University.
He spent eight years in the London Wine trade and passed the daunting Master of Wine Exam, http://www.masters-of-wine.org
He moved to Bermuda to found the Bristol Cellar, which became the country’s leading wine merchant and which he headed for some 20 years.
He established Robin Blackburne Ltd, a firm of International Wine Consultants - and Chateau Investments, a wine investment firm.
He has visited the vineyards of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Corsica, Madeira, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, USA, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Africa.
He has presented tastings and lectured extensively on wine throughout the U.S.A. and Europe and has conducted Wine Auctions for Charity in New York, Aspen and Bermuda.
He has also been retained as an on-board enrichment lecturer for Royal Viking Lines, Silver Sea and Norwegian Cruise Lines.
He has visited the vineyards of Bordeaux some forty times and is considered a so-called world “expert” on the wines of Bordeaux.
He has judged at several wine events, most recently as a senior Wine Judge at the prestigious California State Fair in Sacramento.
He is the author of Vintage Versage, a collection of Comic Wine Verse - and writes articles on wine for Magazines.
He is the inventor and designer of the Blackburne Tennis Racquet http://www.BlackburneDS.com, and the ViniCool, found in the homes of millions of wine lovers around the world.
He conceived, developed and is the publisher of “Winery Directories.com” http://www.WineryDirectories.com - the Internet’s most comprehensive winery directory - listing and linking some ten thousand wineries worldwide. He is the architect and designer of the Arembis Search Engine http://www.Arembis.com which powers Winery Directories.com and other portals and is the technology behind the recently launched Arembis Restaurant Wine-List-specific Website search application. The same engine powers the Wine Merchant Wine List search application.
Mr. Blackburne’s wine talks are informative, amusing and entertaining. He may be reached to discuss tastings, speaking engagements, magazine articles, auctioneering or wine judging at:

Tel 1 441 292 2670 or Email Blackburne@northrock.bm

Robin Blackburne   - Wine Judge at the California State Fair, Sacramento

Tasting at the State Fair, Sacramento

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Demise or Survival of The Coral Beach Club

The Coral Beach Club –
               Demise or Survival


        In 2008, the Owners of the Coral Beach Club in Bermuda assigned the property and the management of the Club and Horizons to a New York investment and development group, known as Brickman, on a two hundred year lease basis. Sadly, this group got caught up in the financial woes of 2008 and subsequent years and they were neither able to develop the property, as planned, nor were they able to meet their obligations. In 2012 it was feared that the Club might close forever, to the great chagrin of members and the many players from abroad who would visit Bermuda in the Autumn for the “November Tennis Tournament”.  Indeed it was further feared that this might be the last tournament.
    Robin Blackburne, who was the tournament director, composed and read this piece at the Prizegiving Gala Dinner on Saturday 3 November.  Happily, at the very end of 2013, a new group took over the leasehold and the future of this great Club seems more certain

Robin Blackburne   - Saturday 3 November 2012

With apologies and thanks to W. Shakespeare and King Hamlet

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to linger
On for barely eight and twenty days.
Or face the music, and thus close the Club forever.
Thereby causing pain and sadness to the many
Members who have loved their Coral Beach so well.

The history of these thirty acres rings
A hundred bells and memories for players
Like all of us tonight who mourn the fate
Of this dear Club we cherish more than others know.
How sad the Brickman partnership has failed
To keep alive that e’re enduring flame
Of tennis on these courts of verdant clay.

The fun and laughter as the games progress
Towards the semi-final matches fought
With shocking competition oft displayed
Between contestants eager to succeed
And thereby reach the final round.
And, with some luck, perhaps a prize of silver
Or just a tankard made of bronze and lead.

But, now the Championships are sadly over,
What does the future hold for coming years ?
Can this short week define the very end
Of such a grand tradition steeped in sweat
And blood and tears and friendships new and old.

 But wait – perchance to dream there may be light
At yond far end of Paget’s darkest tunnel.
Who knows, the clouds may lift to soon reveal
A benefactor with the means to save
This dear beloved piece of land and sea.

‘Tis true that nature doth abhor a vacuum.
Perhaps that here tonight there is a man
Who has the will to save this once great club.
May he come forth and show us his true colours
Or form a syndicate to raise the cash this month.

We could not bear these walls and lawns be doomed
Or see a bailiff’s poster on the gate
Excluding us from entry to the grounds
Or passage to the beach and turquoise sea.

Oh how we would so badly miss
The blue-striped towels and leaking showers
And all the little things we hold so dear.
So let us hope that in the end all will be well indeed.
Perhaps the worthy Sweda Bank will feel compassion’s need
And write the loan down to a sum that if we pass around
The hat to members here tonight we might not run aground

Robin Blackburne   3 November 2012

Ode to the Code

         This piece was composed by Robin Blackburne to replace the informational but somewhat irritating "pep talk" given to the players in previous years at the beginning of the Annual Bermuda International Tennis Championships by the rather officious US former Director of the Tennis Tournament.
          It was first read by the author, who was the tournament Chairman that year, at the Monday night welcoming cocktail party for the players at Newstead, Bermuda on
10 November 1985.
                           ODE TO THE CODE

Please remember, don't forget
To buy each day the Royal Gazette
And study well the morning schedule.
Unless you're early out of bed you'll
Very likely miss your game
And that would be a crying shame

When on the court the rule is "whites"
(This note is just for neophytes).
Now warming up should be just that -
Enough to raise the thermostat.
Please keep the score and call the lines
With voice stentorian  - not signs.

A thousandth part of just a hair
May catch the tape  - but could you swear
That speeding ball was in or out ?
So if there is the slightest doubt
The gentlemanly thing to do
Is give the point to you know who.

Rule forty-three you may recall
Says if, perchance, a rolling ball
Invades your court from foreign parts
Or, during play, the umpire farts
You are obliged to call a let.
And now a little etiquette:-
Don't chuck your racket in the air
Or smash it on the umpire's chair
Or shout if you have lost or won.
At Coral Beach - it isn't done.
                                                          Robin Blackburne,  10 November 1985


The International Invitational Tennis Championships, held at Coral Beach Club, Bermuda, require all players to wear white tennis attire.
Some players occasionally sought to wear tee-shirts and coloured tennis apparel and this addendum to Ode to the Code, read after the Ode to the Code, was written by Robin Blackburne to make players gently aware of the tournament dress code rules.

It was first read at Horizons during the Monday night welcoming party on
13 November 1990

Addendum to Ode to the Code

For those who did not understand
Why Mr. Agassi was banned
From playing on the hallowed grass
Of Wimbledon  -  which still has class.

It was because he wanted to
Wear tee-shirts painted green and blue.
So thus, at Coral Beach's hub,
We think that the All England Club
Has got a very neat idea
Which we intend to follow here.

The rule is that all players wear whites
Including shorts and socks and tights
And shoes and warm-up pants and shirts
And sweaters, headbands, caps and skirts.

So please this week do not besport
A tee-shirt when upon the court.
It's OK for a jog or run.


At Coral Beach it just ain't done.

                                                      Robin Blackburne, 13 November 1990

Farewell to Jonatthan Crawley

Farewell to Jonathan Crawley

Jonathan Crawley was one of the greatest characters ever to grace Bermuda’s shores. He was an insurance giant and, if one were to be the casting director of a movie about the insurance industry, Jonathan would have been perfectly cast to play the role of the classic O.E. Insurance underwriter. (O.E. = “Old Etonian”)
            He was larger than life, entertained lavishly at his home and in restaurants, drank Champagne by the gallon and lived every moment to the fullest. During his seventeen years in Bermuda, he made, dare i say, thousands of friends, many of whom were at the farewell party given for him at the Café Lido on 29 March 1996 - and at which the author read this piece.  The hundreds of guests present were all greatly saddened at the spectre of his leaving Bermuda to start a new life in his Chateau in the South West of France – Armagnac country.   At the time, he was planning to restore and convert the chateau into a small luxury hotel, but this project never came to fruition. He did however move into a house on the property and undertook renovations to a number of buildings, but not the main chateau.

Jonathan Crawley, Jonathan Crawley
Can it be true that you're leaving;  no surely
Not till you've shared one last glass of Champagne
With all of your friends who wish you'd remain.

You came to Bermuda in seventy-nine,
Since when you have quaffed more Pol Roger and wine
Than most of us drink in a lifetime or two.
Your departure is causing so much of a stew

That the owners of Romanoff, Fourways, Plantation
Have met to discuss the new state of the nation.
Oh what shall they do, but at all costs don't panic
Let's hope that they'll ride out this crisis Titanic.

Jonathan C, dear Jonathan C,
You've now got your wonderful mate Caralie.
And together you'll build your new nest in the Gers
But the whole of this year you'll be making repairs

To the great Chateau Brouquens, the bedrooms, the hall,
The loos and the dining room, cellar and all.
And the moment it's finished you know we'll descend
Upon you in droves and be sure that we'll spend

Thousands of dollars converted to francs
In your bar drinking Armagnac  - token of thanks
For the fabulous times on Jasmina  - your boat;
Three times sunk, three times lifted and still just afloat.

Jonathan C,  Jonathan C
You're the archetypal truest, the bluest O.E.
Your waistcoats, your kerchiefs, sartorial style
May soon have to change;  as the new Francophile
You'll don berets, smoke Gaulloises, wear boots of light brown
And eat garlic galore and drive Citroens to town.

Bermuda will not be the same when you've parted
For challenges new in la Belle France uncharted.
No more hurricanes, earthquakes or natural disaster
Or clients insisting their claims be paid faster.
No longer a ticket for thirty-five K
You'll speed down the Autoroute to the café.

Gone are the days when the Royal Gazette
Will carry your photo   -  but have no regret.
The mayor of Condom will welcome you soon
As the local photographer snaps the tycoon.

The Insurance Symposium won't be the same.
Your speeches so witty have brought you acclaim.
Perhaps they'll invite you to hold forth next year
Although you'll no longer be acting for Sphere.

We shall miss you dear Crawley;  Oh what shall we do?
No more boating or skiing or drinking with you.
Your charm and your style have left quite an impression.
Your loss to Bermuda may cause a recession.

We shall visit the Chateau de Brouquens next year
When the hotel is open and fully in gear
And the cellar is stocked with the choicest of wine
And the bedrooms are scented with Rosemary and Thyme.

And the grass on the tennis court's mown to perfection.
The pool is so clear it will show your reflection.
The horses are saddled and ready to ride
And Caralie's grooming and right by your side.

And afternoon tea will be served on the dot
Of a quarter past four with the tiniest tot
Of Armagnac just to ensure the blood flows
Cholesterol-free from our heads to our toes.

So please don't be sad that we're losing a pair
Of friends who've got an incredible flair
For making us happy and laugh till we cry.
It isn't adieu   -  it is only good-bye

Till we see you in France whether sooner or later
We know the hotel will get greater and greater.
We'll drive to your Chateau or change planes at Orly,
But never forget that we love you J Crawley.

                                                                        Robin Blackburne

                                                                           Bermuda 29 March 1996