jamie goode's wine blog

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Forty years ago (next week) Christie's held their first wine auction. To celebrate this anniversary, they held a lunch today at their King Street HQ, hosted by current department head David Elswood and attended by the legendary Michael Broadbent, who joined Christie's in July 1966 and was in charge of the first auction.

I had a nice chat with Michael - among other things we discussed the appalling thread that a post I made on the eBob board kicked off, when I quoted some of his remarks at a dinner (which I probably shouldn't have). The rudeness of some of the participants still grates with him.

Michael recalled how the first 10 lots he sold as an auctioneer were to a lunatic. It was a series of spirit and liqueur miniatures. 'To my amazement the chap bought all 10 lots', he recalls. 'I was so releived.' However, two weeks later someone wrote on behalf of their friend, the bidder from this auction, claiming that he thought they were picture miniatures. 'He asked me, "could I let them off?"' Broadbent adds, 'If I'd known that the first person I sold to was batty, I'd have lost my nerve.'

During lunch it was nice to catch up with Linden Wilkie, Andrew Jefford, Stephen Brook and Jim Budd among others. In the picture are Bill Baker (left), Michael Broadbent is centre, chatting to David Elswood, and Oz Clarke is in conversation with Ian Harris (CEO of the WSET).

I wandered back up to Piccadilly with Andrew Jefford, where by coincidence I bumped into my wine-loving brother in law, Beavington. A nice surprise. A small world.


At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Stuart Peskett said...

Some interesting points, Jamie.
Having read the thread, it raises the age-old question of what constitutes a "private" event. If, as you say, you were invited as a journo, then it is extremely naive to expect that was was said during the event to be confined to the venue's four walls.

And I have been the victim of some waving the old "I've been misquoted" banner when I know full well they said what they said.

But the wine trade is a little bit small and cosy, and people can forget that it is an industry to which journalism principles apply, and is not protected in its own cocoon.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

The difficulty here is that Micheal thought this was a private dinner, but Corney & Barrow had invited a couple of journalists. Different perspectives.

I've been in trouble for reporting 'private' conversations with wine trade figures here in the past. The problem is, of you are a journalist, unless someone prefaces a comment with 'off the record', if they say something juicy and quotable, it seems a waste not to use it. Perhaps people should be a bit fairer on journalists and let them know what is off the record and what is on. If I was speaking to you or Jack, I wouldn't say a word unless I'd be happy for the conversation to find its way into print. If I didn't want to be quoted I'd make it clear.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Having read the entire thread I find Mark Squires conduct to be quite extraordinary (especially being the moderator): rude, offensive and conceited.

His actions demean ebob and any idea of civilised wine debate. Many postings there seem to be deliberately insensitive and aggressive - following his lead?

I also dislike the divisive supposed dichotomy between American and British views on wine. Why have opinions become so entrenched following Parker and Robinson disagreeing on wines such as Pavie? Reading comments on ebob from the more considered contributors, it strikes me that there is actually far more agreement than might be imagined from all the "noise"

Simon Rummens

At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Stuart Peskett said...

Reading that thread, you'd think that Squires was Parker's big brother, and he was sticking up for a member of his family...

I cannot understand this perception in the States that all British wine experts are anti-Parker and have a problem with him. If anything, I think that the only problem is how one man can have such clout and influence on so large a country.

Re the quoting debate, I'm happy so long as people are clear what is off the record and what isn't. If they're chatting away to a journo and I'm scribbling away, it's a fair bet that what they say might end up being quoted. I don't buy that "Oh, what I told you was just for your personal information" rubbish that I've heard countless times in the past.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Paul Tudor said...

The thread is extraordinary. And thanks for bringing it to our attention, even if well past the event!

What strikes me is that is the cultural imperialism of many of the posters on eBob, including the moderator. Surely one of the major reasons that we all are interested in wine is its diversity. So how come diverse opinions about wine are not respected, at least tolerated? Broadbent's views have some validity - and they are his opinions, of course. I defend to the death his right to say such things etc etc etc, just as Mr Squires is entitled to his views. And he brings little credit to Robert Parker or the rest of the Wine Advocate by his behaviour on this board.

In light what has happened in Iraq, in what is happening with American politics in general, should we be surprised by the tone and attitude of these postings? Probably not. But it saddens me that some people get off on this sort of activity.


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