Steven Spurrier, Who Upended Wine World With a Tasting, Dies at 79

Steven Spurrier, Who Upended Wine World With a Tasting, Dies at 79

As for Mr. Spurrier, he leveraged the tasting into different careers in wine, with both triumphs and failures.

With the shop Caves de la Madeleine and the school L’Académie du Vin as a base, he built a successful mini-empire in and around Paris. By 1980 he had opened two wine bars, Bistrot à Vin and the Blue Fox, as well as a restaurant, Moulin du Village.

Other schemes did not work out. A plan for a wholesale wine storage cellar was an expensive mistake, and while efforts to open distant outposts of L’Académie du Vins succeeded at first, they did not end well.

In France, tax problems ensued. As Mr. Spurrier put it in “Steven Spurrier: Wine — A Way of Life,” a memoir published in 2018, “The Spurrier House of Cards was to collapse in 1988.”

Moving back to London in 1990 with his wife, Bella, and their two children, Mr. Spurrier sought to revive his career. He was an indefatigable traveler, giving talks on wine, and advised airlines on what to serve passengers. He wrote a series of educational wine books and, in 1993, began a long association with Decanter, a British consumer magazine, writing columns and leading tastings.

Steven Spurrier was born on Oct. 5, 1941, in Cambridge, England. His father, a tank officer during the war, joined his family’s sand-and-gravel business in Derbyshire afterward, which boomed with postwar construction.

Steven attended Rugby, a boarding school, and the London School of Economics. He was an indifferent student, more interested in pursuing art, jazz and wine.

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