Anthony Barton of Chateau Leoville-Barton has been named Decanter Man of the Year 2007.
One of Bordeaux’s most respected proprietors, Barton – the 24th Man of the Year – joins an illustrious club.
The first to hold the torch was Lebanese veteran Serge Hochar of Chateau Musar in 1984. He was followed by Margaux proprietors Laura and Corinne Mentzelopoulos – who along with May-Eliane de Lencquesaing of Chateau Pichon Lalande and Jancis Robinson MW are the only women to be awarded the honour.
Other great names include Robert Mondavi, Grange’s Max Schubert, Andre Tchelistcheff, Angelo Gaja, Paul Draper, Ernst Loosen – and many more.
‘It was a great surprise,’ Barton told decanter.com. ‘I don’t deserve it but I’m absolutely thrilled. I know quite a few of the previous men of the year – like Len Evans – so I’m in good company.’
Barton features in the forthcoming April issue of Decanter magazine, in an interview with Stephen Brook, in which he speaks in detail of his often controversial attitude to pricing.
‘Unlike almost everyone else in Bordeaux,’ Brook writes, ‘he refused to increase his opening prices in [the mediocre] 1997.’
Barton said he refuses to ‘play the game of always competing with my neighbours. That’s all about vanity and doesn’t help the image of Bordeaux.’
And he adds that he’s quite happy that Leoville-Barton is cheaper than its peers. After all, he says, there are only so many new cars one can buy after each vintage.
The Irish-born veteran of Bordeaux – he has lived there 55 years, and has run Leoville-Barton and its neighbour Langoa-Barton since his uncle Ronald Barton retired in 1984 – says that one country that interests him is South Africa.
He’d like to try something there, he tells Brook, ‘but it’s only in recent years that our financial position would have made that possible, and now it’s rather too late.’
He tells decanter.com that by ‘too late’ he means that there is certain instability in the political situation, ‘and also because I am 76 years old and I want to spend more time at home in Bordeaux.’
Barton is now looking forward to the Man of the Year dinner on 13 March at London’s Turf Club. ‘Some of the guests are offering some wonderful wines. Jean Hugel is bringing a Riesling, and Pol Roger are going to bring some Champagne for the beginning and at the end.
‘I’m doing the seating plan now. It’s very difficult as there are various people who may get offended if they’re put in the wrong place.’
Decanter Men (and Women) of the Year 1984-2006
2006Marcel Guigal -Rhône
2005Ernst Loosen -Mosel
2004Brian Croser -Adelaide Hills
2003Jean-Michel Cazes -Bordeaux
2002Miguel Torres -Penedès
2001Jean-Claude Rouzaud –
2000Paul Draper -California
1999Jancis Robinson MW -London
1998Angelo Gaja -Piedmont
1997Len Evans, OBE AO -Australia
1996Georg Riedel -Austria
1995Hugh Johnson -London
1994May-Eliane de Lencquesaing –
1993Michael Broadbent -London
1992André Tchelistcheff -California
1991José Ignacio Domecq -Jerez
1990Prof Emile Peynaud -Bordeaux
1989Robert Mondavi -California
1988Max Schubert -Australia
1987Alexis Lichine -Bordeaux
1986Marchese Piero Antinori –
1985Laura and Corinne Mentzelopoulos –
1984Serge Hochar -Lebanon
Written by Adam Lechmere