Steven Spurrier, who turned the wine world upside down with a tasting, dies at the age of 79


With the store Caves de la Madeleine and the school L’Académie du Vin as a base, he built a successful mini-empire in and around Paris. By 1980 he opened two wine bars, Bistrot à Vin and The Blue Fox, and a restaurant, Moulin du Village.

Other schemes didn’t work. The plan for a wholesale wine storage cellar was an expensive mistake, and while efforts to open L’Académie du Vins’ remote outposts initially succeeded, they did not end well.

There were tax problems in France. As Mr. Spurrier put it in Steven Spurrier: Wine – A Way of Life, a memoir published in 2018, “The Spurrier House of Cards was supposed to collapse in 1988.”

In 1990, Mr Spurrier returned to London with his wife Bella and two children and tried to revive his career. He was a tireless traveler, lecturing on wine and advising airlines on what to offer passengers. He wrote a number of wine textbooks and began a long collaboration with in 1993 carafe, a UK consumer magazine that writes columns and leads tastings.

Steven Spurrier was born on October 5, 1941 to John and Pamela Spurrier in Cambridge, England. His father, a tank officer during World War II, subsequently entered his family’s sand and gravel business in Derbyshire, which was booming with post-war construction.

Steven attended rugby, boarding school, and the London School of Economics. He was an indifferent student more interested in art, jazz, and wine.

His first taste of wine came when he was 13 when his grandfather offered him a taste of port at a family Christmas dinner – Cockburns 1908, Mr. Spurrier recalled. “I never doubted that I would make wine my profession,” he wrote.


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