My life in wine

I have been an enthralled drinker of wine since early university days and, perhaps on account of (amazing) adventurous, travelling parents longed one day to settle in one place and literally put down roots.

The idea being that it would be a place of gently rolling hills bathed in sunshine, where I would toil the earth and drink the fruit of the vine; where I would jump into ponds on hot Summer days, light bonfires in the autumn, stand under the chill of a pale yellow, Winter sky thanking God for the clean air and watch the buds burst in Spring with all their fertile promise.

Under the impression that you had to be born into French vinous nobility to achieve this, I merely continued drinking and learning in an amateur but highly enthusiastic way until I discovered the improbably named “Plumpton College” – now world renowned and hosting International Symposiums – where under the magnificent Sussex Downs I learnt about vine management, fermentation, tasting and… calculus!

Still unclear about that last bit.

Having done a vintage in Rioja, for C.V.N.E. under Basilio Izquierdo, and Contino with Jesus Madrazon,  I then went to the Cote de Castillon in Bordeaux. There my romantic fantasy of vineyard life came true as I managed 10ha of gorgeous terroir, vinified wine for two harvests and designed and built a barrel chai. I also picked cherries and made clafoutis, went surfing in Lacanau and honed my, now quite impressive, tractor skills to the point where I can reverse and turn with a trailer backwards down a muddy slope in the rain. An achievement I am particularly proud of.

horse ploughing (2)

Picture21 Tom

My European sojourn ended there and I moved to London where I ran the International Wine Challenge, the world’s largest, most comprehensive, blind, wine tasting competition, with over 9000 entries from more than 40 wine producing countries. Yes, that bit is pulled from the blurb! – but true – A feat of administration, tasting and lugging boxes! My colleague at the Challenge, Will Fuller of Fuller Communications, might try to assert that I had little to do with lugging boxes but he’s Australian and bends the truth when they’re losing the cricket.

After that I worked behind the scenes for Her Majesty Jancis Robinson – that’s just what I call her, she doesn’t insist on it – the doyenne of the British wine press, utterly fabulous and just on the sexy side of intimidating.

From there I became the Wine Buyer at Venus, a mighty on-trade wholesaler where Champagne sales are staggering and the sharp end of the trade quickly came into focus. And then Fine Wine Buying first at the Antique Wine Company and then Bibendum.

However a long-held ambition to work for myself and create something I love has finally become possible and here we are…

So… London Love Wine!

Me