Consultant editor for Decanter and mastermind behind the Judgement of Paris, Steven speaks with Andrew Jefford and WSG members to wine writing, both past and present, and unveils his new “Académie du Vin Library” initiative—a publishing entity that updates and revives the out-of-print classics as well as new and specially commissioned titles by some of the finest contemporary wine writers for your reading pleasure!
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About Steven Spurrier
An Englishman in Paris
In 1971 Steven Spurrier did the unthinkable. He used his inheritance to establish himself as a wine merchant in Paris – in the heart of the country that, at the time, reigned supreme over the winemaking world.
Two years later, Steven thought it might be fun to marshal his already extensive network of contacts to offer lessons in wine appreciation for his fellow Parisians. He founded the L’Académie du Vin, offering a series of informal courses that combined wonderful wines and expert tuition in an agreeable atmosphere, taking the subject matter seriously without ever descending into dullness.
In 1976, Steven sent more tremors through the wine world when he organized the ‘Judgement of Paris’ – a blind tasting that pitched the finest French vintages against a selection of ‘upstarts’ from California. To everyone’s surprise (and some people’s horror), the upstarts won – underlining that with sufficient skill and passion, along with the blessing of suitable terroir, great wine could be produced across the world.
Since then, in part thanks to Steven’s youthful enthusiasm, wine appreciation courses have become an essential part of the global wine landscape. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of students around the world who have taken a formal programme through the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) since it was founded in 1969, there are a multitude of opportunities to learn about wine through more informal wine tastings, wine classes and wine societies.
Now, a little older and a good deal wiser, Steven has turned his attention to the writing that inspired him to enter the wine trade in the first place.
Good wine writing, like wine itself, is a product of talent, passion, extensive knowledge and instinctive good taste, but it is also about pleasure. Wine writing at its best must inform and educate, yes, but equally it should elevate the senses and stir the spirit – inviting the reader to embark upon a journey that is both endless and endlessly fascinating.
It is to that end that Steven has recently founded the Académie du Vin Library, a new publishing house specialising in the very best wine writing past, present and future for wine lovers worldwide. Académie du Vin Library enjoys the support of some of the best-known names in the business including Hugh Johnson OBE, Jancis Robinson OBE MW, Sarah Kemp, Justin Howard-Sneyd MW, Ian Harris MBE and Jane Anson.
The Wine Scholar Guild believes in the merit of this initiative and its value to wine lovers around the world and will keep its members, students and followers informed of its developments and publications.