I joined the Wine Trade in 1961 under the excellent tutelage of John Grant, of G F Grant, who called me Dicquars. Apart from learning a huge amount fine wine, I was given the responsibility of cooking lunch for us all on a Baby Belling, hence my love of cooking. This I did after having spent an hour or so trying to park John’s Bentley!
In October 1963 David Rutherford came to visit us in Idol Lane for a glass and explained that his Champagne Academy candidate had pulled out. John Grant asked if was doing anything the following week. I replied that I was going on the Champagne Academy. I was only 18 – a bit young for this fantastic experience. I then joined the team for my destination of Madame Roederer’s house in Reims (she was seldom there), and was joined by two others, Alan Trease and Michael Southam.
I heard that the best way to drink champagne was in the bath and tried this but it didn’t work for me!
On return to London I shortly took Nigel Grant’s position on the committee. Much later in 1974 I became Chairman.
Our annual dinner was at the Savoy Hotel early in May. France didn’t have a President as they were between Pompidou and D’Estaing. As a committee we agreed to toast the Republic of France, but as I rose to do so Christian de Billy (Pol Roger), the Chairman of the French team, whispered “Le President en Arrière - Plan”, so in a split second I changed the toast.
The Guest Speaker was Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones, the only English wine maker at Hambledon near Portsmouth.
Since 1989 I have been running a business with my wife importing Spanish delicatessen foods, and a brand of 10 year old tawny port, Dixon’s Double Diamond, whose trademark I own. We moved out of London in 2005 have been living happily since then in beautiful Devon.