It was 40 years ago in March that I started my wine business off Smithfield Market. In many respects the timing could not have been worse as the country had just been through the Winter of Discontent. However, aged 26, with all the abandon and optimism of youth, I took the plunge.
My premises consisted of a small area on the ground floor, and 3000 sq feet of cellars (formerly meat cold storage units) beneath, part of a fine Victorian building opposite the front of Bart’s Hospital. Links between the Wine Trade and the Medical Profession are notoriously strong and within a few days of opening the head of Oncology heard a cork pop and paid me a visit. He was swiftly followed by the senior consultant from ENT, a variety of other doctors, and a dentist. Other supporters from those early days included local lawyers, accountants, and a number of Worshipful Companies: Apothecaries, Butchers and Ironmongers.
In the early 1980’s a trip to Burgundy swiftly revealed that the finest wines were to be found from growers whose profound knowledge of their vines and individual soils enables the more talented to make wines of unsurpassed complexity and finesse.
Thirty years on and I still work with the same families behind these wonderful expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Applying the same principles of locating growers dedicated to their terroirs and producing wines of true local character I now represent Domaines in all of France’s principal wine growing regions as well as a number from more obscure appellations.
You will find many of these wines on the lists of some of London’s most exciting and successful restaurants and wine bars, as well as in the cellars of private enthusiasts.
I have been very lucky in my choice of career. Apart from trading in wine, an endlessly changing and fascinating product, I have had the joy of working with both wine makers and consumers many of whom have become good friends over the years, not to mention some outstanding members of staff. Coupled with working in one of the most beautiful, historic, and vibrant parts of London I count myself extremely fortuitous.