Decanter contributor Michael Broadbent last night won the prestigious James Beard Award for his his book Vintage Wine: 50 Years of Tasting Three Centuries of Wines.

The compilation of the veteran wine writer’s half-century of tasting notes was named the top book on wine and spirits in 2003. It beat another book by a British wine critic, Oz Clarke’s New Wine Atlas.

The third nominee was Great Tastes Made Simple, by Andrea Immer. The annual awards – considered the most prestigious of their kind in America – were handed out in a ceremony in midtown Manhattan.

The James Beard Foundation supports the country’s culinary world and provides scholarships and educational opportunities for aspiring chefs and other professionals.

When Vintage Wine was published last autumn, Broadbent visited New York to promote it, and regaled a sizeable crowd at Christie’s with his recollections.

Among knowledgeable American auctiongoers, Broadbent, long a director of Christie’s, is regarded as the dean of wine auctioneers. He is seldom seen with a gavel now, but he is still one of the powerful forces in the world of wine writing and criticism.

Last year Broadbent marked a triple anniversary: his 70th birthday, 50 years in the wine trade, and his 300th column for Decanter magazine. Amongst many tributes published in the magazine, Stephen Browett of Farr Vintners said of the 1991 edition of his Vintage Wine Book, ‘it was our bible. By the time the second edition was published in 1991, the original…had almost disintegrated.’

Decanter publishing director and former Beard nominee Sarah Kemp said, ‘I am thrilled for Michael. The James Beard award is the big one to win, and he thoroughly deserves it.’

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York, and Adam Lechmere6 May 2003