Wine, a way of Life - Interview with Steven Spurrier
In the world of wine Steven Spurrier needs no introduction. The man who broke the staus quo by organising the Judgement of Paris in 1976 and has been one of the most influential wine writers, educators and merchants. Amanda Barnes interviews and has a conversation with Steven Spurrier in London's 67 Pall Mall. Please subscribe to our channel and follow: Twitter: Instagram: Facebook: Transcript: Was there ever a moment in your life that wine was not your destiny? Wine was what I wanted to do when I got around to trying to find a job. My next choice would have been art. As it was, I got an interview at Christopher's in Jones Street, the oldest wine merchant in London and they took me on. So... but it was, it was always what I wanted to do it and it has been a way of life. What's is the most pivotal moment for you in your career in wine? Well, the most pivotal moment is of course the judgment of Paris, which doesn't go away and it's not sort of an albatross, but I mean it's something which... I'm much more proud of having founded l'académie du Vin So to create the first private wine school in France, and the Academie du Vin goes on and it said that's why I'm most proud of, and I think it is a pivotal moment because if there'd been no Academy du vin, there would have been no judgment of Paris. So that's it. And as you say, the judgment of Paris was pivotal not just for your career but also for new world wine, especially California. Do you think there could ever be a tasting with quite the same impact today? Or has the wine world changed too much? I think it was well described in George Taylor's book as the tasting which would revolutionize the world of world of wine. What it did, it was the first chink in the armor of France and what it did it created a template whereby unknown wines of quality could go up in a blind tasting against known wines of quality, and if the tasters were of quality, their views would be respected, and no one had thought of that before. There are a lot of little tastings comparing this, that and the other but no one had done it publicly in Paris, French wines against California wines and it just, it did, it opened the gates. It opened the gates to competition, so you have Eduardo Chadwick, who had this tasting in Berlin in 2004 and his wines came first, second and equal fourth, and that became known as the Berlin tasting and since then that template has been taken on. And so that's it, simple. Of course it was vitally important for California, and as Aubert de Villaine of Romanée-Conti, who was one of the judges said it was a much-needed kick in the pants for, he didn't say pants, he used a rather more vulgar word, kick in the pants for French wine. It was a win-win situation. Do you think Bordeaux will continue to stay as the most prestigious region? Well if I'm talking about France I think all the focus is now on burgundy the focus hasn't gone off Bordeaux, but Bordeaux is a brand so to speak, and it has Chateauxs and when people think Burgundy, they think of individual domains. They think of people in Burgundy, they think of brands in Bordeaux. I would think the Rhone Valley both North and South to me is the hot spot. And then of course right across the middle, and then you have Spain and Italy. I want to know about your private cellar, do you have any kind of naughty secrets in there? I have a naughty secret that probably 50% of my private cellar is new world wine and it represents about 1 percent of my drinking! In terms of wine communication we've kind of seen the era of super critics, perhaps in the past. What are your thoughts? Well, I mean let's say the dominance of Robert Parker is no longer a factor. In this country Jancis Robinson is by far away the most important critic. I view critics rather like movie critics, you know? Your latest career change within wine industry has been as as a vintner, making of sparkling wine in England. How's that changed your perception of the industry, or has it? Well, it's convinced me of the adage that to make a small fortune in the wine business you need to start with a large fortune. What was your proudest moment? The Decanter man of the year last year.