Steven Spurrier celebrated his 70th birthday in a manner difficult to imagine a decade ago—with a picnic on a hillside in Dorset overlooking his vineyard (lovingly and sometimes arduously tended by his wife, Bella).
The Sunday event culminated a weekend celebration that featured fellow Decanter contributors Hugh Johnson OBE and Michael Broadbent MW, and such luminaries as John Avery, Michael Schuster, Jasper Morris MW, John Livingstone-Learmonth, along with a contingent from Spurrier’s early days in Paris, including Patricia Gastaud-Gallagher and Isabelle Bachelard.
Wines featured at Saturday’s birthday lunch were Chardonnays from Shaw & Smith and Arcadia, whose producers, Michael Hill Smith MW and Warren Winiarski, were present, as were Jose Gil-Fournier (O Fournier) and Peter Femfert (Nittardi), who contributed an O Fournier Centauri red blend and a Nittardi Chianti Classico. (Bollinger, Leoville-Barton, Beaucastel, and Bava Moscato were also enjoyed.)
Speeches were limited, but Warren Winiarski, who shot to fame when his Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon won the infamous “Judgement of Paris” tasting in 1976, rose to say, “Steven and I have been joined at the hip for 35 years now—and happily.”
The end of October will see the Spurriers’ first harvest of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, which were blessed by their local minister, Rev. Bob Thorne, at the picnic in warm, bright sunshine.
Aiding the mood, and perhaps an augury of things to come, was a vivacious sparkler from Furleigh Wine Estate, an ultra-modern property a few miles away that will produce the Spurriers’ wine, to be called Bride Valley Vineyard.
Written by Brian St. Pierre