Today sees the launch of an entertaining and informative new memoir by Steven Spurrier, the man often called “the unsung hero of the British Wine Trade”.
Wine – A Way Of Life tells the eventful story of a man deeply driven by a love of wine, from joining London’s oldest wine merchant Christopher and Co in 1964, to relocating to Provence four years later as a newlywed, then moving to Paris where he bought a small wine shop and opened France’s first private wine school L’Académie du Vin.
It was there, in 1976, that Steven created The Judgement of Paris, a California vs France tasting that shook the world of wine and later became the subject of a feature film – with Steven played by Alan Rickman, no less.
As Tony Laithwaite remembers, “Being a contemporary of Steven’s didn’t mean we met up a lot back in the Seventies. I worked out of a shed in Slough, but did sometimes park my van outside his Paris shop with its wonderful horseshoe bar in super-chic La Madeleine where he was ruthlessly educating bemused Parisians out of their assumption that Les Anglais knew nothing about wine. He taught them a lesson they still haven’t forgotten, did Steven.”
After celebrating a 10th anniversary in Paris, Steven and his family returned to London in 1982, with Spurrier expanding his wine interests in the city and writing five well-received books in as many years before a rocky financial ride at the end of the decade forced a rethink.
Refashioning himself as an international wine consultant – and a very good one at that – Steven travelled and tasted all over the world with fingers in many vinous pies, most recently establishing Bride Valley Vineyard on the family farm in Dorset, dedicated to producing fine English sparkling wine.
Steven’s CV speaks for itself. In recent years he’s been named as Decanter magazine’s Man of the Year (2017), become Chairman Emeritus of the Decanter World Wine Awards and Honorary President of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust – our industry’s benchmark educational body.
Wine – A Way of Life is an absorbing and deftly told story of unexpected fame, of fortunes made, stolen away, or strayed. Aside from recounting tales of inspiring optimism and reinvention in the face of difficulty, the book offers unrivalled insights into changes in the wine world over the last 50 years.
Highly recommended for the wine lover in your life and, as they say, available from all good book sellers. Buy it on Amazon here.