Industry News

Steven Spurrier Named WSET Honorary President

by Deborah Parker Wong, DWSET
“Since creating l’Académie du Vin in Paris in 1972 and with Michael Broadbent the Christie’s Wine Course in London a decade later, most of my life in wine has revolved around education,” said Steven Spurrier, who became Honorary President of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) on January 23, 2017.

Honorary President Steven Spurrier (center) joins WSET CEO Ian Harris (r) and Gérard Basset, MW (l) on stage at the WSET Awards and Graduation ceremony held at the Guildhall, City of London.  PHOTO COURTESY OF WSET.

“The WSET, with its branches across the entire world is the leader in communicating the whys and wherefores of wine to an ever-growing public and it is a great honor for me to be named President from 2017, succeeding my illustrious colleagues and mentors Michael Broadbent, Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson and Gerard Bassett.”

Spurrier, who is widely read and followed as an author and columnist for The Somm Journal in the U.S., observed, “As the Consultant Editor for Decanter magazine I am perhaps more involved in communication and, in today’s world, something that is not communicated about does not truly exist.”

During his early years as a wine merchant and the owner of Les Caves de la Madeleine, Spurrier did much to level the playing field for California wine when he organized a blind tasting in 1976 that became known as “The Judgment of Paris.” The controversy that ensued after wines from Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars upset the proverbial apple cart by scoring higher than their French counterparts has been the subject of both books and films.  

After 50 years in the wine trade, Spurrier continues to be an early adopter as a producer of sparkling wine in Southern England. His Bride Valley 2013 Blanc de Blancs, one of three wines he produces on a 200-acre farm on South Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, near Kimmeridge, was debuted last year during a tasting held in his honor at Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley.  

As a role model for students of wine, Spurrier’s path is unprecedented. He has led the way as a retailer and now as a producer in putting emerging wine regions on the map.

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