Fellow wine writer Charles Metcalfe told me yesterday that Nicholas Faith, born in 1933, died on Wednesday night. This makes me very sad as Nick was one of the wine writers who enjoyed gossip as much as I do.
He was also multi-talented. In the world of wine he is best-known as author of The Winemasters, a thrillingly detailed, objective tale of Bordeaux's biggest scandal in the early 1970s. It won the André Simon Award for drinks book of the year in 1978. He subsequently wrote authoritative books on champagne, cognac and Château Margaux as well as being editorial director of the specialist review L'Amateur de Bordeaux. He had many friends in the French wine scene. The fuzzy picture below is the one on the back jacket of his monograph on Château Margaux commissioned by Mic hall Broadbent MW for the Christie's Wine Library. Nick spent many a happy day and night at the château when Laura Mentzelopoulos, Corinne's mother, was chatelaine.
But he spent most of his working life as a financial journalist, and not just any financial journalist. He was investment editor of The Economist and industrial editor of The Sunday Times in London, having been awarded a first-class degree in Modern History at Oxford.
His Bordeaux book was updated and republished in 2004 as The Winemasters of Bordeaux, prefaced by this quote from Stephen Brook's book on Bordeaux: 'Inevitably I have come to develop a love–hate relationship with Bordeaux. I dislike its snobbery, its greed, its thinly disguised contempt for the consumer. But I nonetheless like its people and I adore its wines.'
This epitomises Nick's sceptical, journalistic approach to wine, and his nose for a good story set in historical context rather than being side-tracked by wine minutiae. More recently his specialist subject was the railways and, as far as I can make out, his last book was a history of the Channel tunnel. Fellow specialist in railway writing Christian Wolmar has fond memories of sharing many a curry on the Holloway Road with Nick and observed that he liked nothing more than sniffing out the foibles of business establishment.
He and his wife lived in a tall stone house in Bletchingdon outside Oxford for many years while their four children grew up. He was a great family man and I remember his telling us with pride, 'people complain about the behaviour of young people in Oxford. I say, "those are my children"'. He subsequently moved to London, where he bought a perilously elevated Islington flat from fellow wine writer Oz Clarke.
He was gregarious, great company and will be much missed.
The atmospheric portrait above right was taken by Nick's French colleague Michel Guillard.