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Michael Cox: 1951-2014

It is with great sadness that the drinks business reports the death of Michael Cox who passed away yesterday afternoon.

Michael Cox
As Master of the Vintners

Michael died at home surrounded by friends and family a year after he underwent an operation on a rare form of cancer.

Part of the Clark family that founded UK wholesaler Matthew Clark and with a grandfather who was involved in the founding of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the Institute of Masters of Wine, alongside his twin David, Michael was already steeped in the trade before becoming one of its stalwarts.

Beginning his career at Matthew Clark he also set up the UK subsidiary for Yalumba, Negociants, in 1990.

It was however as the head of Wines of Chile (when his brother was simultaneously head of New Zealand Winegrowers UK) that he is perhaps best known and latterly as Master of the Vintners Company one of the oldest Livery companies in London – a position he saw through to the end despite his illness.

A letter from his wife Lynne describes how after six months of chemotherapy last year his cancer returned just before Christmas.

Bearing this reversal of fortune, as was the character of the man, with “great stoicism and forbearance” he nonetheless managed a visit to Oxford just four days ago which apparently left him “delighted”.

As well as his various roles in the industry, Michael was known as a keen party-goer and was, as Jancis Robinson MW notes in her own tribute, a “legendary dancer”.

Michael after his investiture as a Commander of the Order of Merit

Tireless, cheerful and ever helpful, Michael’s peers voted to award him the drinks business’ Lifetime Achievement Award last year which was presented by his brother David.

His commitment to Chilean wine in the UK also earned him the rare honour of being made a Comendador de la Orden al Merito de Chile – a Commander of the Order of Merit of Chile – which was presented to him in the presence of the President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera in 2010.

It was a moment he described as “one of the proudest” in his 40 year career.

A funeral for family and close friends will be held in the next 10 days while a memorial service for friends and colleagues will be held within the next six weeks, details of which will be posted here on the drinks business.

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