Bad news comes in threes, it seems.
In the US Al Brounstein of Diamond Creek, 86, arguably the Napa Valley’s earliest defender of terroir, finally succumbed after suffering Parkinson’s disease that would have felled a less determined individual years earlier. He was still painting, travelling the world and showing his single vineyard wines on several continents almost to the end. The estate is left in the hands of his wife Boots Brounstein and stepson Phil Ross.
In Australia, Dr John Middleton of Mount Mary, Francophile pioneer of the Yarra Valley outside Melbourne, died on Tuesday at the age of 82. He made some of Australia’s finest and earliest Pinot Noir and revelled in having been visited by some of Burgundy’s luminaries. He also made the hugely distinctive and slow-burning Cabernets blend about which Robert Parker was particularly scathing in a recent report on Australian wine in The Wine Advocate, thus polarising the Australian wine establishment.
And in the UK, yet more distressing evidence that Masters of Wine are not immortal. One of the most charming of the lot, Christopher Tatham MW, is no longer around to bring his impish good humour to the world of wine. He passed the MW exams in 1966 and was Chairman of the Insititute of Maters of Wine in 1982, having worked at the Wine Society and latterly been a partner in importers Thierrys. In his MW resume he claimed to have been the first person to spread the gospel that wine could and should be delicious – and that Beaujolais should actually have come from Beaujolais. He was much older than he looked.