Broadbent, (John) Michael 1927-
BROADBENT, (John) Michael 1927-
PERSONAL: Born May 2, 1927, in Saddleworth, England; son of John Fred and Hilary Louise (Batty) Broadbent; married Mary Daphne, 1954; children: Emma, Bartholomew. Education: Rishworth School; Bartlett School of Architecture, London, certificate in architecture. Hobbies and other interests: Drawing, piano playing.
ADDRESSES: Home—Chippenham Lodge, Badminton Rd., Old Sodbury, Bristol BS37 6RQ, England. Office—88 Rosebank, London SW6 6LJ, England.
CAREER: Wine auctioneer, lecturer, and writer. Laytons Wine Merchants, London, England, trainee, 1952-53; Saccone and Speed, London, wine merchant, 1953-55; John Harvey and Sons, Ltd., staff member, 1955-66, director, 1963-66; Christie Manson and Woods, Ltd., director, 1967-99, head of wine department, 1966-99, director of Christie's Wine Course, 1982—; Christie's Fine Art, Ltd, non-executive director, 1998-2001; Christie's International, Ltd., non-executive director, 2002—. Military service: Royal Artillery, 1945-48; reached rank of second lieutenant and assistant adjutant, Dover Castle 1947-48.
MEMBER: Wine Trade Art Society (chairman, 1972—), International Wine and Food Society (president, 1985-92), Masters of Wine (chairman, 1971-72), Wine & Spirit Trades Benevolent Society (chairman, 1991-92).
AWARDS, HONORS: Glenfiddich Award, 1978, Grand Prix, Académie International du Vin, 1984, and Silver Medal, Akkademie Deutschland E. V. Gastronomische, 1993, all for editions of Wine Tasting; André Simon Memorial Award, 1981, Glenfiddich Award, 1991, and Grand Prix, Académie International du Vin, 1984, all for The Great Vintage Wine Book. honorary member, Académie du Vin de Bordeaux, 1973; named chevalier, 'Ordre National du Mérite (France), 1979; medal, Ville de Paris Echelon Vermeil, 1989; Distinguished Service Award, Wine Spectator, 1991; Lifetime Achievement Award, Bacchus Society of America, 1992; Man of the Year, Decanter magazine, 1993; honorary member, Académie International du Vin, 1994; Alles über Wein Millennium Award, 2000; named Glenfiddich Wine Writer of the Year, 2001; named freeman honoris causa, Worshipful Company of Vintners, 2002; Wine Writer of the Year award, Wine Appreciation Guild, 2003; honorary diploma, Hungarian Wine Academy, 2003; James Beard Foundation Award for best wine book, 2003, for Vintage Wine; Gourmand World Cook Book Award, 2003, for "best wine book in the world."
Wine Tasting: Enjoying, Understanding, Wine Spirit Publications (London, England), 1968, revised edition published as Michael Broadbent's Pocket Guide to Wine Tasting, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1982.
The Great Vintage Wine Book, M. Beazley (London, England), 1981, revised edition published as The New Great Vintage Wine Book, revised edition, Knopf (New York, NY), 1991.
The Complete Guide to Wine Tasting and Wine Cellars, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1984, published as The Compleat Winetaster and Cellerman, M. Beazley (London, England), 1984
(With Hubrecht Duijker) The Bordeaux Atlas andEncyclopedia of Chateaux, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1997.
Michael Broadbent's Wine Tasting: How to Approach and Appreciate Wine, M. Beazley (London, England), 2000
Wine Vintages Pocket Guide, M. Beazley (London, England), 2000.
(Author of introduction) Michel Dovaz, Fine Wines, 2000.
Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine: Fifty Years of Tasting Three Centuries of Wine, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Also author of numerous journal and magazine articles in periodicals, including Decanter and others.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael Broadbent is considered by many to be one the grand old men of wine. He is, as Larry Walker noted in Wines and Spirits, credited "with virtually inventing the international wine trade through his revival of wine auctions at Christie's London auction house in 1966." According to Dan Berger, writing in the Los Angeles Times, Broadbent is "one of the most esteemed wine tasters in history." Through his work at Christie's, his lectures, and his many articles and books, he has proved a powerful force in the worldwide renaissance in wines since the 1960s. Among his best-known books are Wine Tasting: Enjoying, Understanding, The Great Vintage Wine Book, and Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine: Fifty Years of Tasting Three Centuries of Wine.
Born in Saddleworth, Yorkshire, England, in 1927, Broadbent trained as an architect, but by age twenty-five had grown bored with his chosen profession. Influenced by his mother, a fan of a leading wine expert of the day, he answered the ad of a London wine merchant, T. A. Layton, and was given a job initially because Layton liked the young man's penmanship. Beginning literally at the bottom of his new profession, sweeping the cellars and sorting the barrels and crates of wine, Broadbent soon graduated to deliveries. After another eleven years of working in various major wine companies—notably, Saccone and Speed and, for eleven years, Harveys of Bristol—he became the head of the wine department of Christie's auction house, where he remained for over three decades. But Broadbent owed much of his success to his first employer, a person "mad as a hatter," as Broadbent told Susie Manning in an interview for Wine Report. It was Layton who convinced the young man to makes notes on wines, "which he scribbled into little red books," according to Manning. "Fifty years, 133 notebooks and 85,000 wines later, Broadbent hasn't looked back."
Broadbent's first wine book, Wine Tasting, appeared in 1968 and has gone through a dozen editions and eight foreign translations, and was the first book written in English that was devoted to the subject. Dean Taylor, writing in Booklist on a revised edition of that book, Michael Broadbent's Pocket Guide to Wine Tasting, called it the "bible for the wine connoisseur," and further noted that Broadbent's writings "on sensory evaluation have proved to be the number one source for the technical enjoyment of all kinds of wine." Writing in the American Reference Books Annual on the same edition, John V. Richardson, Jr., observed that "the role of a wine's clarity, color, taste, and smell in tasting are admirably covered." Richardson also allowed, "Broadbent cuts through the snobbery, misconceptions, and fallacies surrounding tastings." Reviewing a revised edition, Prue Leith wrote in Books that Broadbent is "the master of the tasting note."
Another classic from Broadbent is The Great Vintage Wine Book and its revised edition, The New Great Vintage Wine Book. Fine wines from 1653 on are described in both volumes, with the majority of the books devoted to French varieties such as red and white Bordeaux, red and white burgundy, and champagne. The books also include tasting notes, a glossary of terms, and a rating system for individual wines. P. Gene Norman, writing in American Reference Books Annual, called the first edition a "useful guide," though Nicholas Faith, in the Times Literary Supplement, found that the highly personal nature of the reviews as well as emphasis on fine old wines rather than on younger ones leads to "major gaps" in coverage. Wendy Miller, however, reviewing the second edition in Library Journal, found that the book provided "excellent scope for collectors."
Broadbent presents a further guide for oenophiles with his The Complete Winetaster and Cellerman and its American edition, The Complete Guide to Wine Tasting and Wine Cellars. Reviewing the former title in the Listener, Derek Cooper called it "a mine of facts and information set out with clarity, no pretension and considerable authority—probably the best all-purpose primer of the year." In The Bordeaux Atlas and Encyclopedia of Chateaux, Broadbent worked with Hubrecht Duijker on a wine atlas that "succeeds especially well," according to Miller in Library Journal.
With Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine the author created something "more personal," as he explained to Manning. Instead of merely adding tasting notes, Broadbent also supplies information on where, when, and with whom he tasted the wine in question. A substantial revision of The Great Vintage Wine Book, this new volume includes a "wealth of new insights, anecdotes and, of course, tasting notes," according to the Wine Spectator's Matthew DeBord. "Broadbent may very well be the greatest taster of fine wine who has ever lived," DeBord added. "Doubters can take this book off to a deserted island for a few years and test their skepticism. If they're not driven mad with envy." Giles Kime, reviewing the same book in the Times Literary Supplement, similarly praised Broadbent: "There is little doubt that the world's greatest palates are the product of experience rather than intuition, and Broadbent's greatness can be taken for granted." And Barbara Ensrud, writing in the Wall Street Journal, felt that "no one has provided as comprehensive a look at some 200 years of the world's pre-eminent red, Bordeaux, as well as other classics." Ensrud continued, "[Broadbent's] enthusiasm, wit and generosity of spirit make the book a pleasure to browse and a must for the reference shelf of anyone who wants to understand what 'great' wines are and the qualities that make them so." The book, which includes the author's personal critique of wine vintages, serves as a valuable reference for merchants, restauraturs, and wine collectors due to its emphasis on quality, style, and condition.
Broadbent has followed a single-minded inspiration throughout his career, as he explained to Florence Fabricant in the New York Times. "'Wines are like people. Some are perfect but boring, some are precocious but fail to live up to their promise, and some may be flawed, but the way they may develop is endlessly fascinating.'" Broadbent further commented: "'You'd recognize Churchill or Eisenhower or de Gaulle, the minute you see them. I recognize certain wines at the first taste and often before I taste them.'" For Broadbent, the essence of wine is simple: "Wine is a civilized thing and a healthy thing," he told Manning.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Reference Books Annual, Volume 13, 1982, p. 74; Volume 15, 1984, p. 718.
Booklist, February 15, 1983, Dean Tudor, review of Michael Broadbent's Pocket Guide to Wine Tasting, p. 754; April 1, 1985, Dean Tudor, review of The Complete Guide to Wine Tasting and Wine Cellars, p. 1090.
Books, June 1988, Prue Leith, review of MichaelBroadbent's Pocket Guide to Wine Tasting, p. 11; December 1988, Thomas Hinde, review of Michael Broadbent's Pocket Guide to Wine Tasting, p. 14.
Library Journal, April 1, 1997, Wendy Miller, review of The New Great Vintage Wine Book, p. 62; April 15, 1998, Wendy Miller, review of The Bordeaux Atlas and Encyclopedia of Chateaux, pp. 66-67.
Listener, December 6, 1984, Derek Cooper, review of The Complete Guide to Wine Tasting and Wine Cellars, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times, February 10, 1985, Daniel P. Puzo, review of The Complete Guide to Wine Tasting and Wine Cellars, p. B8; February 23, 1995, Dan Berger, "It's a British Thing," p. H19.
New York Times, December 18, 2002, Florence Fabricant, "A Wine Expert, 75, Passes the Test of Time," p. F1.
Times Literary Supplement, April 24, 1981, Nicholas faith, review of The Great Vintage Wine Book, p. 470; December 20, 2002, Giles Kime, review of Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine, p. 12.
Wall Street Journal, September 2, 2003, Barbara Ensrud, "Vintage Taste, Improved with Age," p. D5.
Wines and Vines, January, 2003, Larry Walker, "Michael Broadbent Honored," p. 14.
Wine Spectator, December 31, 2002, Matthew DeBord, review of Michael Broadbent's Vintage Wine, p. 170.
Wine Report Online,http://www.winesimple.com/ (June 30. 2003), Susie Manning, interview with Broadbent.