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Uncorked: Jamie Ritchie, Sotheby’s

The CEO and president of Sotheby’s Wine Americas & Asia is the quintessential Englishman in New York where he has been since 1995. Happiest in the English countryside, Ritchie plans a spectacular funeral feast for the friends that survive him.

What Vintage are you? 

1963: A great year for Port. Massandra and Yquem are enjoyable. The one bottle of Pétrus I tried is not bad. Otherwise, I use 1962 – that works pretty well.

What bottle sparked your love of wine?

When I was 13, my parents started letting me have a small glass at lunches and dinners – I don’t remember the names, but I remember the tastes and the parties! Chateau Cissac 1975 was the first I can remember.

Ambition or talent – what matters more?

It depends on the person – you can succeed with raw talent and you can also get there by hard work, perseverance and determination – I am trying the latter.

What would you be as a wine?

Champagne: always ready for a party, though perhaps not always as chilled as I would like to be.

Where are you happiest?

Over a long weekend in the English countryside with my family and friends, some tennis and golf, long lunches and dinners and plenty of English humour.

What’s your greatest vice?

Working too much from home, rather than spending time with my wife and children

Best advice you ever got?

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?

None – I am very lucky to have tried a lot of great wines and there is nothing in my cellar that is not replaceable, so I’ll go to the local restaurant to console myself and see what’s on the list

What’s the best & worst thing about the wine business?

Of course, the best is the wonderful people – sharing times and wines with winemakers, owners, négociants, colleagues and clients, many of which have also become great friends – this is the joy of our business.

The worst is outdated regulation which is holding the industry back and stopping more people from enjoying wine.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points)

I am a late developer – was ’88….now ’92…..and still getting better……needs re-evaluating every few years

Desert island vine?

Chardonnay – I can drink white Burgundy and blanc de blancs Champagne all day and night.

Which wine would you like served at your funeral?

I want my friends to celebrate and remember the times we had together – we need Krug Grande Cuvée (it has been with me at all my most important occasions), an imperial of Mouton Rothschild 1986 (if it’s ready, then I will have had a long life), an imperial of Climens 2010 and Taylor 1963 – there is a jazz band playing, just like after Dexter’s wedding in High Society.


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