Renowned wine writer and auctioneer Michael Broadbent, MW, passed away on March 17, 2020. His son, wine importer Bartholomew Broadbent, broke the news on Wednesday via social media with the sentiment, “Too sad but he had a great 92 years.”
Born in 1927, Broadbent was a doyen of the wine trade and seminal figure of 20th-century wine writing. He abandoned his architectural career and joined the wine business in 1952, after a spell in the British Army. He worked his way from the ground up and gained his Master of Wine qualification from the Institute of Masters of Wine in 1960.
In 1966, Broadbent joined the auction house Christie’s in London where he started and headed its specialized wine department. He led wine auctions of wines from around the world until his retirement from full-time work in 1992, though he remained a consultant until 2009.
At Christie’s, in 1982, Broadbent and Steven Spurrier started one of the first wine courses for consumers.
However, it was Broadbent’s writing career that earned him the love and respect of so many. He penned his first column in 1957 and his first guides to wine tasting in the 1960s. His book, Wine Tasting, originally released in 1968, published numerous editions in several languages.
He went on to write The Great Vintage Wine Book in 1991 and Vintage Wine in 2002. These were condensations of the tasting notes Broadbent religiously took in his famous red notebooks of every wine he tasted. As a writer and reviewer, his recommendations were born out of experience, and his views were opinionated but never sneering.
Over the years, Broadbent served as president of The International Wine and Food Society, chairman of The Institute of Masters of Wine, master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers and chairman of The Wine & Spirit Trades’ Benevolent Society as well as honorary president of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
Button-holed by an admirer in a London restaurant a few years ago, and being complimented on keeping going in spite of his advanced years, Broadbent said, “Yes, at my age I am beginning to forget what others have yet to learn.”
But thanks to his many contributions to the wine world, Broadbent’s legacy will live on for years to come, still helping to inform and education future generations of wine lovers.