Michael Broadbent, one of the international wine industry’s most admired figures, celebrated his 80th birthday last night with a handful of old friends.

While these included friends from Decanter (where he has been a columnist for 30 years) like publishing director Sarah Kemp and consultant editor Steven Spurrier, it was very much a ‘non-industry do’, Kemp said.

In the dining room in the exclusive club in St James’s Street there were also some old pals in the shape of a Pol Roger 1988, a Chassagne Montrachet Champ Gain 2000, Haut Batailley 2000, Lafite 1996, Moscato d’Asti Nivole, and a Cockburns 1967 and 27.

Many of the wines were there for a reason – beyond their obvious rarity and excellence. The Moscato is an old favourite, and 1927 is Broadbent’s birth year. As for the 67, Cockburns was one of the only major Port houses to declare that year, ‘and a very good wine it is,’ Spurrier said.

As for the Lafite, it was sent that afternoon by Hugh Johnson, and decanted at five o’clock. Johnson announced, ‘I couldn’t bear to think of Michael celebrating his 80th birthday without Lafite.’

Guests included the critic’s daughter Emma – but not his wine merchant son Bartholomew, who lives in San Francisco and was unable to come, Broadbent said, because his wife had gone to Virginia and left him in sole charge of their twins.

Another guest was celebrated businessman Sir Thomas ‘Tommy’ Macpherson, war hero and former chairman of Vinopolis, who boasted he was ‘several years older’ than his host.

Kemp said, ‘It was a cheerful, friendly gathering. There were about 25 people there, and not that many wine industry people at all.’

Written by Adam Lechmere