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Obituary: Death of wine writer Simon Hoggart ‘a great loss’

Tributes have poured in for wine and political writer Simon Hoggart, a previous contributor to Decanter, who has died aged 67 after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer.

Simon Hoggart at Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2011. Image Credit: Geraint Lewis/Alamy

For many years, Hoggart wrote regular wine pieces for The Spectator alongside composing daily political sketches for the Guardian newspaper on the assorted band of Parliamentarians he observed from the House of Commons press gallery.

In 2009, he wrote features for Decanter magazine and was also a judge on the title’s retailer awards.

‘Simon is a great loss,’ Gavin Quinney, owner of Chateau Bauduc in Bordeaux, told decanter.com. ‘No doubt the cruel irony of the title of his book, “life’s too short to drink bad wine”, wasn’t lost on him.

‘He was an authority on wine, but he nevertheless made his audience feel that he was on their side of the fence, looking in,’ Quinney added.

Wine critic Jancis Robinson MW tweeted, ‘will so, so miss Simon Hoggart. Such a nice, modest, clever, witty man who glamorised our wine world by joining it from Westminster.’

In one feature for Decanter magazine, Hoggart wrote of the history of wine drinking inside the UK Parliament. He evoked halcyon days in the 1960s when ‘MPs, staff and journalists could buy a glass of Latour for six shillings, the equivalent of 30 pence’.

That all changed when the cellar was sold off to balance the books soon after. ‘Latour is no longer available. nor is Margaux or Haut-Brion or Domaine de la Romanee-Conti,’ he wrote.

Still, MPs were still on to a good thing compared to the outside world. ‘If your local MP ever does take you to the Commons for a meal you are likely to be impressed, not least by the prices,’ he wrote. ‘Parliament pays no rent or property taxes, nor do diners contribute to the lifestyle of a famous chef.’

In another article for Decanter, Hoggart wrote of discovering Chateau Latour while working as a correspondent in Belfast, Northern Ireand, in the 1970s.

‘I tried the Latour on a few contacts and it seemed to have a magical effect. People were more helpful, more frank, eager to tell me what was going on.’

Written by Chris Mercer

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