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October 23, 2017updated 30 Oct 2017 11:05am


By Rasika Sittamparam

Wine writer, consultant, vineyard owner and former merchant, Steven Spurrier is simply a legend in the industry. When he created the Judgement of Paris on 24 May 1976 – a historic event at which experts rated Californian wines above Bordeaux in a blind tasting – he single-handedly changed the world’s perception of the industry.

It has been quite a year for Spurrier, who was appointed honorary president of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and elevated to chairman emeritus for the Decanter World Wine Awards. He says the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment is ‘persuading the customer to pay just a little bit more to get better than average quality’, and he would know.

Currently focused on finishing his memoirs – Wine, a Way of Life – out in November, he was in reflective mood when he spoke to Spear’s, recalling the Hermitage La Chapelle 1961 Paul Jaboulet Ainé as the best he’s ever tasted.

‘He has made it his life’s work to know the fine wines of the whole world, new and old, in a most respectful fashion,’ says one industry colleague, and Spurrier gives Spear’s some of his renowned insight and foresight. ‘The wine world is changing all the time,’ he says. ‘Two areas I would look at are Chile, where vineyards are being planted in cooler areas to produce more complex wines, and Italy, which continues to concentrate on its many hundreds of indigenous grape varieties.’

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