Uncorked: Simon Staples, Berry Bros. & Rudd

Simon Staples is the larger than life sales director (Asia) for Berry Bros. & Rudd. He moved to Hong Kong in late 2012, having been the firm’s fine wine director in the UK.

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What Vintage are you?
1967 (though I look like ‘47). Pretty poor in Bordeaux, although we had two amazing Imperials of Latour ’67 at our wedding, and I had a bottle of inspiring Quinta Noval Nacional ’67 a few weeks ago.

What bottle sparked your love of wine?
In 1991, after 3 years working in Harrods Wine Department telling people NOT to buy Lynch Bages (or anything French), and only buy Wolf Blass Yellow label, I accidently broke the neck off a bottle of Mouton Rothschild 1982. Picking glass shards out of the mess, I was left with at least half a bottle. I poured it out for myself and colleagues and I simply “got it”. Others would be Château d’Yquem 2001and a DRC 1990 La Tâche which sparked my love of Burgundy

Ambition or talent?
Passion! It doesn’t matter what you are passionate about it will make you stand out.

What would you be as a wine?
Don Simon 2012, which I’d describe as: ‘Full, rounded, robust, decadent … seemingly flamboyant, but actually with a reserved core that doesn’t take itself too seriously’ (I’m half Welsh and half Sicilian, hence the reference to Ponty(-pridd) and Palermo)

Where are you happiest?
At home with my wife, Sarah, phones on silent, watching a “classic film” (Last night was Once Upon a Time in America) with a bowl of some truffle oil laced pasta dish with a decent bottle of red Burgundy. Nirvana!

What’s your greatest vice?
Buying wine! Slightly obsessed, truth be told. Since we developed BBX, not a single day will go by without me putting a cheeky bid (or 10) on some wine or another. Currently if we drink a bottle a day we have about 40 years of wine (and that doesn’t take in for high days, holidays or weekends! Houston….we do have a problem!)

Best advice you ever got?
My dad always said “The day that you can openly admit you are wrong or you that you have made a mistake is the day you start to live”

Don SimonYour cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?
My barrel of Don Simon!! (24 cases of bottles and Magnums!), if not a Melchior (24 bts in one) of the brilliant Ducru Beaucaillou from 2010,’11 and ‘12, but I might need athletic support to lift the thing.

What’s the best & worst thing about the wine business?
Best – The vast majority of customers are your friends and vice versa. We aren’t selling time share apartments in Crete or insurance.
Worst – Would love to say the inefficiency and lack of collective thinking surrounding Bordeaux En Primeur but that’s too dull. It has to be fake wines at the moment. Sadly there is a lot of dodgy stuff out there and everyone needs to be vigilante. Buy it young, store it impeccably and have a little patience. It’s worth it.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points)
Don’t get me started on the Parker score! But if 84/100 is unhappy and 100/100 is Euphoric, I’d be storming in with a solid 97+ (but could rate higher as soon as I get a glass of something tasty in my hand!)

Desert island vine?
Got to be Riesling! As long as I had a fridge to chill it!

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