Spurrier is a legend, having staged the now famous ‘Judgment of Paris’, blind tasting in 1976 between Californian and French wines, where some US wines trounced some of France’s most famous first growths.
He has since written several wine books and created the Christie’s wine course with then senior wine director and fellow previous WSET honorary president Michael Broadbent.
Spurrier joined the wine trade in London in 1964 as a trainee with London’s oldest wine merchant Christopher and Co. He later moved to Paris where he bought a wine shop, and subsequently opened L’Academie du Vin, France’s first private wine school. He was then named honorary president of Academie du Vin Tokyo, a WSET Approved Programme Provider, in 1987.
Spurrier has won many awards, including Le Personalité de l’Année (oenology) 1988 for services to French wine and the Maestro Award in honour of California wine legend André Tchelistcheff (2011). In 2001 he was awarded Le Grand Prix de L’Academia Internationale du Vin, only the third time this award has been given since 1982.
Spurrier returned to the UK in 1990 to focus on writing and consultancy. He is consultant editor for Decanter magazine. In 2009 the first vines were planted on his wife’s estate in south Dorset to produce a sparkling wine under the name Bride Valley Vineyards.
WSET chief executive Ian Harris said, “My board of trustees and I are delighted to welcome Steven as WSET’s fifth honorary president, following in the footsteps of Gérard Basset, Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson and Michael Broadbent.”
Spurrier said: “It is a great honour to succeed such a roster of the previous four honorary presidents. I have spent most of my five decades in wine in education and communication, where the WSET is the leader by a long chalk.”
The hand over from previous president Gérard Basset took place at the WSET’s annual awards and graduation ceremony in London’s Guildhall last night (January 23) in front of approximately 500 wine and spirits professionals.
Regarding the awards Harris said, “The academic year 2015/16 was WSET’s most successful to date, with a record 72,171 exams taken globally, an increase of 17% on the previous year, marking 14 consecutive years of growth.
The main awards went to: Theatre of Wine UK retail director Jason Millar won the Vintners’ Cup and scholarship winner for being the student who achieved the highest aggregate mark across all units of the WSET Level 4 Diploma in Wines and Spirits
The Riedel Trophy for the WSET Educator of the Year is awarded to the individual or company that has made a significant contribution to WSET courses and qualifications.
There were three winners this year:
Dragon Phoenix, China
Napa Wine Academy, US
The Hakkasan restaurant group, UK, US and Middle East which trains its own staff using WSET modules.