Remembering Derek Smedley MW

“I was sad to hear that Derek Smedley MW died this week.  He had been suffering from cancer, but worked up until the last month or so before he handed over some of the clients for whom he had consulted for a number of years.

Derek was a warm and polite man whose gentle demeanour belied a depth of knowledge that few people in the wine business could match.  He joined the wine trade in 1961 with John Harvey and Sons in Bristol.  He became an MW in 1968, and lived and worked through some remarkable changes in the wine world.  He knew Bordeaux extremely well, having worked closely with Chateau Loudenne while he was with IDV, but was also an early champion of producers as diverse as Antinori and Montes. 

Despite his 58 years in the wine trade, he retained a robust enthusiasm for the subject, and was always keen to know what was new when he came to our tastings.  His palate was sharp, and his opinion on a wine was formed only by what he tasted, as he had a rare ability to shut out the numerous extraneous factors that often feed into the views we hold on a wine.

I got to know Derek quite well over the last decade due to his involvement as a consultant with places like the Mansion House, Guildhall, Lincoln’s Inn, the Carlton Club and the Royal College of Physicians, as well as a few Livery Companies. His frequent emails asked for quotes, suggestions or samples for his clients.  Without fail, he would report back on the tasting to let me know whether we had been successful or not.  Because of his integrity, knowledge and palate, I took a special pleasure in our successes, and was relaxed about our failures, knowing that we hadn’t succeeded simply because Derek had found a better wine. 

He will be missed, for the wine trade that I joined in London in 1983 has been a better place thanks to his presence over all that period.”