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The Proust Q&A: Neal Martin

Essex-born Neal Martin worked for Lloyds bank and as an English teacher in Tokyo via stints as a DJ before entering the world of wine, falling in love with wine after a thunderbolt moment experienced while enjoying a glass of Château Montrose 1982. Having run the popular website for three years, in 2006 he was approached by Robert Parker and asked to become a contributor for the American critic’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Wine Advocate. He lives in Guildford with his wife Tomoko and two daughters, Lily and Daisy.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Lots of things make me happy: a 1945 Claret, KFC, The Jackson Sisters’ I Believe in Miracles and the elusive orange-flavoured chunky Kit-Kats. Whether they make be perfectly happy is another matter. If you are perfectly happy then the only way is down. Cognisant of that inevitability means that you were never perfectly happy in the first place.

What is your greatest fear? 


Who do you most admire?

English musician Nik Kershaw.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I pimped by Renault Clio with air conditioning.

What is your current state of mind? 


What is the quality you most like in a woman? 

The fact the she is not a man.

What words or phrases do you most overuse?

Do you sell orange-flavoured Kit-Kats?”

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

Until my daughters came along and revealed its true meaning, Agnetha from ABBA.

When and where were you happiest?

Drinking a 1945 Claret whilst listening to I Believe in Miracles in my local KFC with an orange chunky Kit-Kat chaser.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

Fewer headaches.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To be able to play the piano with both hands because it severely curtailed my career as a classical pianist.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I suppose it would have to be my book on Pomerol. You have to do one thing in life where you can look back on your deathbed and say: “Yep…I did that”. Hopefully I will have sold all the copies by then.

Where would you most like to live?

In the school catchment area.

What is your most treasured possession?

A tatty old shoebox stuffed with letters (remember them?) full of teenage passion, angst and heartbreak.

What is your most marked characteristic?

A warped sense of humour, part of the Essex terroir.

Who are your favourite writers?

Haruki Murakami, Alan Moore, Prince, Thomas Hardy, J Dilla, AS Byatt, Andre Simon, Robert Smith and Sue Townsend.

Who is your hero of fiction?

Finn and Jake from Adventure Time.

What is it that you most dislike?

Corked wine writers.

What is your greatest regret? 

Losing touch with a kindred spirit many moons ago.

What is your motto?

Never take yourself too seriously (whatever that is in Latin).

Who would be your ideal dinner party guests and what three wines would you serve?

I’d invite convicted wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan and serve Romanée Conti 1947, Pétrus 1991 and to finish, Château Yquem 2012.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No