Drinks Business Awards 2015: the winners

Lifetime Achievement

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Nick James with Laurent d’Harcourt of Pol Roger

Winner: Nick James

This year’s recipient is well known to all longstanding members of the British Port and Champagne trade. Having spent over 44 years in the drinks industry, Nick James has represented Port brands such as Graham’s, and Champagne houses from Taittinger to Lanson.

In 1998, he joined Pol Roger, where he spent the last seven years as head of the Champagne brand’s UK office. Although he hit retirement age in November, he remained on the Pol Roger board until March this year, and remains in close contact with the team in London and Epernay.

Described at a recent dinner as a “true, great professional”, James has managed to successfully build a set of strong wine brands in the UK market, while also creating loyal friendships, even among his competitors in the trade.

Among his many achievements, he is credited with the successful integration of spirits Glenfarclas and Hine into Pol Roger’s agency business, while at the same time augmenting the operation’s reputation for wine and Champagne.

As well as his day job, last year he chaired the Champagne Agents Association. Today James is taking on a new drinks challenge as chairman of a cider producer called The Lambswick Drinks Company.

He owes his career in the wine trade to a godfather who owned sherry business González Byass, and freely admits that his academic record was poor – he was “chucked out” of Cirencester College twice. His “turning point” was attending the Champagne Academy in 1976, and he describes his period at Pol Roger from 1998 onwards as “the most amazing final part of my career”.

The drinks business must also personally thank our recipient for inspiring the magazine to collate one of its most successful online news story ever: Top 10 red trousers in the wine trade.

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