Tim Stanley-Clarke dies

A much admired member of the UK trade and leading Port expert, Tim Stanley-Clarke, has passed away.

Tim Stanley-Clarke at the Circle of Wine Writers Christmas party in 2013. Photo courtesy: Jim Budd

the drinks business understands that Tim died very suddenly this week, having been battling an illness for some time. A well-known, admired and much respected member of the UK trade, Tim was especially well-known for his work with agent John E Fells & Sons and Symington Family Estates over the last 30 years.

A sales director at Christopher & Co. from 1978 to 1984, he became both a Port ambassador for Symington Family Estates and consultant for John E. Fells (as it was then) in 1984 to the present day.

Initially responsible for representing Dow’s in the UK, both Graham’s and Warre’s eventually fell under his remit as did, in 1989, Blandy’s Madeira.

Paul Symington, co-director of Symington Family Estates, said: “It is with the greatest sorrow that we at Fells and Symington learned today (22 June) that Tim Stanley-Clarke died last night after a serious illness.

“We are deeply saddened at this tragic loss of an old and close friend.

“Tim joined us in 1985 from Christopher & Co, then the UK importer of Dow’s Vintage Port, and worked with us for some 30 years. His unique knowledge of Port, combined with his infectious sense of humour, made Tim the central figure in the UK wine trade on all matters related to Port for decades. Tim had a profound influence on how Port is perceived and he will be impossible to replace. We will miss him dearly.”

His love of fortified wines aside, Tim was a lover of all wine and his time at Fells also saw him looking after Bouchard Père et Fils and William Fevre among others.

One of his other notable achievements was helping launch Sir Cliff Richard’s Portuguese wine ‘Vida Nova’.

Always impeccably well-mannered, attired and with a devilish wit, Tim was also closely involved with numerous wine societies and clubs notably that of The Garrick in London.

He was a regular panelist and judge for the IWSC and a senior judge at the IWC and also judged on panels in South Africa and Australia.

A full obituary will appear soon on the drinks business.

53 Responses to “Tim Stanley-Clarke dies”

  1. Edwin Mosdell says:

    Very sad news, such a great character and wit, I first met Tim at Christopher & Co in the 1970’s, he immediately called me ZERO, a play on my surname after the American Comic actor Zero Mostel, no offence taken, just a nice example of his style, a nice man who I will miss.

  2. Steven Spurrier. says:

    This is the saddest possible news. Tim Standing-Joke as he was known to his legion of friends was one of the brightest lights of the ‘gentlemanly’ wine trade and an irreplaceable part of it. For two decades he hosted the ‘shortest day lunch’ at The Garrick around December 21st, when we all brought bottles and didn’t leave until it was dark outside. Hearing that Tim is no longer with us makes this the darkest day.

  3. Adrian Laird Craig6 says:

    Oh, what awful news. Painful for his many friends, devastating for his beloved Douney. The most sympathetic , amusing, thoughtful of men, how fortunate were we to have him in the WineTrade, and also in our lives? God bless you son, and thanks, you old bugger x

  4. Adrian Laird Craig says:

    Oh, what awful news. Painful for his many friends, devastating for his beloved Douney. The most sympathetic , amusing, thoughtful of men, how fortunate were we to have him in the WineTrade, and also in our lives? God bless you son, and thanks, you old bugger x

  5. Alan Montague-Dennis says:

    The end of an era. One of the greatest and colourful characters in the Wine Trade . A sad loss .

  6. Allan Cheesman says:

    A true trade legend. A close friend . Always available for a chat or a call and a spontaneous dim sum lunch. A fine palate- arguably one of the nations finest Port palates. A wicked sense of humour , a practical joker par excellence. A loving husband to Dounie with whom all are thoughts are with today.
    His wit personality and charm will be missed but his memory will live on among all his friends- he even joked about Texit in an email last week!

  7. Olivia Leisk says:

    It’s lovely to see such fond memories of a wonderful man. Tim was my godfather, a great friend of my fathers and an absolute character! Love to all of his family and friends what a huge loss to the world x

  8. Justin Howard-Sneyd says:

    Oh no! What terrible news to wake up to. Tim was one of the people who persuaded me to join the wine trade, when I was a ‘worker’ on the International Wine Challenge. He was incredibly friendly and approachable to us lowly dogsbodies (unlike some of the loftier members of the trade who would look through you as if you weren’t there), but Tim looked you in the eye, remembered your name, and treated you as an equal. And remorselessly pulled your leg whenever an opportunity presented itself. One of the kindest, nicest men you could hope to meet.

  9. Arabella Woodrow says:

    A very sad loss, and far too soon. What a character (known to me at Christopher and Co as Filing Clerk, and me to him as Wardrobe). There was never a dull moment when he was around, but he will also be remembered for his kindness and consideration of others, his rapier-sharp wit, his extensive wine knowledge, experience and great palate. Unique in many ways, he will be much missed.

    • angela reddin says:

      |Ahh such sad news, As has been said before, Tim’s grown up schoolboy wit and funny bone sense of humour was unique and made us all laugh and giggle. He was wickedly clever but never to hurt. So generous with his dedication to the trade and willingness to share that awesome pool of knowledge he had. I am sure he will be importing some glorious bottles to heaven as he slips a whoopy cushion under the seat of the Gods.

  10. angela reddin says:

    AAAh no. I will so miss his grown up schoolboy humour, incredible wit and ease with giving his all to the trade. He was generous with his time, knowledge and caring attention to all. A legend, gone but never to be forgotten.

  11. Susan McCraith says:

    Terribly sad to lose such a big personality before his time. My early memories of Tim include him taking a group of us to Oporto. He and Bill Baker were a complete riot as you can imagine. It was fabulous fun and a shame they are both gone now. Tim was always gracious, kind and witty with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. I’ll miss him.

  12. Margaret says:

    He was the epitome of the wine trade for me: kind, wickedly un-PC and hugely knowledgeable. You always had to watch your back, though: his practical jokes were notorious.

  13. Sandy Leisk says:

    I worked with Tim for many years in Hatch Mansfield & Percy Fox and there was never a dull moment – a legendary trip to the Douro where chickens were introduced to Tony Lord’s bedroom as he slept and Michael Broadbent leaving our Dining Room in Golden square after a memorable Romanee Conti tasting & lunch with coat tails flying as he cycled back to Christies with a ‘ Glad to be Gay’ Sticker firmly affixed to his back are but two examples of his constant ensemble of fun !

    His knowledge of Chinese menus was almost on a par with his knowledge of Port and after nearly fifty years of enjoying his friendship I have lost a true friend and great playmate – I half expect him to come bouncing back crying Gotcha!!!

    R I P old chum.

    • Liz Moore says:

      A fitting tribute Sandy many happy memories of long lunches and his legendary hamburgers….hope he’s with Brian Barnet putting together a new wine list.

  14. Rosie Joynson says:

    Tim was always a joy to be around and as mentioned by so many he had a wonderfully wicked sense of humour and was utterly charming. Some of the anecdotes posted have made me laugh out loud. He will be so missed by so many, especially his family.

  15. Charles Crawfurd says:

    I only heard a few days ago that Tim was very ill and that was a big shock in itself. This is even worse. How very very sad. I endorse all the lovely things that have already been said. He will be long remembered and he will already be having a joke with St Peter over a glass of vintage something for sure!

  16. Charles Metcalfe says:

    Hugely sad news. Tim brought fun into all our lives, as well as his great knowledge of port-related matters. We shall miss his practical jokes, his ever-sharp wit, his friendship. A truly gentle man.

  17. James Montague says:

    Tim was enormously kind to me on many occasions.. His unfailing warmth and bonhomie, his generosity of spirit, his unrivalled expertise, were an example to the callow youth who first met him at Fells 28 years ago. He will be hugely missed by everyone who knew him, and our lives willl be emptier without him. I shall open my finest bottle of vintage port and raise every glass to his memory. Thank you Tim.

  18. Stephen Brook says:

    Sad and unexpected, as Tim was on a fine form a few months ago when we last met. When one walked into a tasting room and spotted Tim there, one made a beeline for him to hear the latest gossip or joke. He will be hugely missed, as the wine trade’s quota of humour and wit has just been halved.

  19. Don Morris says:

    RIP. A true star of the wine trade.

    • Maggie McNie, `M.W., ,, , ! says:

      Darling Tim, As a judge with him, I always cheered when I saw his name on the list of judges. His fun and laughter;always made the session such fun. I remember with such laughter his comment on one occasion, when I was in the chair for a panel he was on, being told that I was an OLD BAG!! |To which I happily replied that I was a Gucci one, and therefore unaffordable.
      His knowledge was magniificent, and his kindness legendary. I shall miss him so much, and send love and prayers to his family at this time.

  20. Gerard Basset says:

    Extremely sad to hear.
    Tim was a true gentleman of the wine trade.
    Rest in Peace Tim

  21. Terry Barr says:

    ‘Stan’ to his close mates Tim was truly one-of-a-kind. Great company and endlessly amusing I for one will miss him dreadfully.
    From the dog poo (made by Tim from coffee & brown bread) on the doorstep when he was helping us move into our first home some 43 years ago the pranks never stopped and were a constant source of hysteria. Absolutely bloody awful news

  22. martin kember says:

    I always thought if you stood in Old Bond Street long enough you are bound to bump into Tim and have a pleasant chat. Sad loss.

  23. S Cassina says:

    …Again one of the best has left us…it was a pleasure to judge with you and thank you again for the free help you gave me when I tried to start a new life in Porto
    R.I.P. Tim

  24. Caroline Symington says:

    What truly sad news. We were flat mates in Lyall Mews for a few months, and his practical jokes were endless, oh boy, we had sooo much fun, On one occasion I was away for the weekend, and he had a friend to stay in my bedroom, When I arrived back, he said his friend hadn’t been feeling well over the weekend, but was fine when he left. When I went to bed that night, I was snuggling down into fresh sheets (so I thought) and half way down the bed I felt a soft gooey mess….I screamed out loud and pulled back the sheets,
    Tim came rushing in and I said your bloody friend has wet the bed….well he creased up laughing at my response…..as what he had done, was melted a few After Eight chocolates and rubbed them into the bedsheets!
    RIP to a dear man,
    Tosh

  25. nick bay says:

    I worked with Tim at F&M back in 1967. He looked after the Wine Library, an annexe in those days to the wine department proper.
    A lady came in one morning and asked to buy a bottle of Evan Water. “Madam” said Tim ” I will go down into the cellar to get you one”., Turning away from the customer with a raised eyebrow and mischievous twinkle in his eye, he went “down to the cellar”
    Pulling a foot stool over to a very high cupboard he climbed up and opened the doors. Climbed in, closed the doors and made footstep sounds to imply going downstairs. 3 or 4 minutes later he reappeared, climbed out of the cupboard and said “Madam I’m so sorry we are out of stock”
    “Thank you” said the lady and walked away out of the shop

  26. Francois Lavaud says:

    Sad to hear the news about Tim, the wine trade feels a much poorer place and he will be greatly missed.

  27. Adam Phipps says:

    Such a terrible loss, unfortunately I didn’t know Tim for to long, but what a remarkable and kind man I knew. Thoughts and prayers to Tim’s family & friends.

  28. George Biswas says:

    Very Sad news.
    Tim was a long standing friend of ours at BACCWS, hosting a number of tastings about his beloved Port, as well as looking after our members royally on a number of trips to the Douro, we were privileged to know him, enjoy his company and wit, as well as learn from him.

    Sincere condolences to Tim’s Family at this tragic time.

    George & all at BACCWS (British Airways Cabin Crew Wine Society)

  29. Peter Lunzer says:

    A monumental loss which is slowly sinking in.
    Perhaps a joyous gain for the ‘other drinks party’ of which Tim frequently spoke, as mutual friends did the unthinkable and in whose steps Tim has now followed, far too soon.
    RIP

  30. Jakub Wierzba says:

    Tim was an incredible person, always with a joke on hand, a kind word and some business&wine advice. Such a loss to the wine trade and to all that had the pleasure to partake in his company, even if only for a while. RIP Tim.

  31. Sarah Batty (née Tolhurst) says:

    I knew Tim in my earlier working days in London through my great friend Sandy Leisk – my memories are of his sense of fun and love of wine and long lunches !!! We were all out to dinner at an Indian or Chinese restaurant (can’t recall which) – the bill was given to Sandy who was shocked at the total so Tim asked to see it and promptly started to eat it !!!! The waiter was not amused as it was his only copy, whilst of course we were all in hysterics!!!
    RIP Tim and my condolences to Douney and family at this very sad time xx

  32. PETER FERGUSON says:

    Very, very sad news. With his devilish wit and always so impeccably dressed, Tim seemed to me to be the wine trade’s very own version of Terry Thomas! I will miss him very much indeed.

  33. Sue Glasgow says:

    It was typical of Tim that his last tweet (one of only 4) likened liquid morphine to a 20 Year Old Tawny. Tim was wonderful in so many ways – charming and engaging with a wicked sense of humour and a ready smile. Everyone he held affection for had a nickname and few escaped his naughty jokes. We often found each other at a decanting sink and it always amused me that he had half a leg of Dounie’s tights tucked into his apron. RIP Tim. The world is a sadder place without you.

  34. An incredible shock to read a wine-trade chum’s email last week – of Tim’s sudden death – simply very sad indeed and a great loss to the world of wine!
    I will never forget his distinct voice, straightforward nature and his abiding sense of humour – like the one written by nick bay (above), except I heard it appertained to Dom Perignon.
    As such, I can only offer his family my sincere sympathies at this awkward time in their lives.

  35. Helena Westcombe says:

    I’ve come to this news late on Saturday morning and can’t believe Tim has gone. The messages bear fitting tribute to his charisma, wit and sharing of knowledge. Together with Bill Warre he opened the door to Port for me in Percy Fox days and made me laugh. Nick Bay’s cupboard story has definitely gained traction over the years – the one from plenty in my past which sticks was when he pinned a scarf to the notice board one morning after returning from a trip with a note ‘Helena, you left this at Gerhard’s flat last night’ – he certainly kept you on your toes! Sincere condolences to his family, a very sad loss.

  36. colin deane says:

    I never knew Tim terribly well and certainly never outside the circumscribed world of wine trade events, judging and competitions. I’d bump into him at various tastings. But whenever I saw him, with that naughty slant to the smile and the eyes of a knowing Buster Keaton, I knew that boredom had given up and retired and that the wines would suddenly leap out of the glasses (if they were worth the jump) and come to life. I treasure his wit and schoolboy seasoned Billy Bunter humour and, above all, his humanity.
    The wine trade has always been open to accusations of ‘pretensions’ and ‘bombast’. Tim was incapable of spelling either word. He could be gently barbed, for want of a better work, but always with a velvet lining: he never laughed ‘at’, only ‘with’ his colleagues. I shall miss him terribly and I cannot imagine how those who knew him intimately will ever laugh in the same way again.
    I’m sure that there’s humour in heaven, and I like to think of Tim, having greeted one of the archangels with a big hug, has sent him off, winging his way, with a sticker saying ‘Glad to be Gay’ stuck on his right wing.

  37. John Rushton says:

    Just read Tim’s obituary in the Daily Telegraph. Very sad. Even after 10 years of retirement I can still remember his great friendly wit and recall wonderful memories of inspirational visits in the Douro. He’ll be sadly missed. Still wear a splendid Graham’s shirt!

  38. Tim was a real gentleman and the kindest person one could wish to meet. I recall happy and hilarious times at the British-Spanish Tertulias with dearest Dounie. Memories to cherish.

  39. Catharine O'Neill (nee Powell) says:

    Dear Tim, What a terrible loss. I worked with Tim at Chritopher’s and kept in touch with him and his wife Dounie whom I would see whenever they visited the Algarve. He never failed to get in touch and let me know when he and Dounie were planning to come for another holiday. We always met up and had some very jolly lunches either in the Algarve or over the border into Spain.
    AndTim will be forever remembered for his practical jokes of which there were many during my time of working with him at Christopher’s. He will be sorely missed.

  40. Joanna Delaforce says:

    Losing a partner in crime is always difficult, especially so when we were joint creators of Mystery wines for the IWC

    The sense of fun and mischief has gone from my life at present BUT I am sure that Tim will still be there to encourage me to keep the tradition going
    Will miss you dearly

    Joanna(aka Rosa Kleb)

  41. John Murray says:

    I started my life in the wine trade with Tim in the Fortnums Wine Library and like Nick was party to the cupboard joke. When taking my first order Tim swopped his tails for a work coat and started to hammer the legs of the table I was writing at, It was always difficult to keep a straight face when working with Tim. We shared a Flat In Lyall Mews and got up to an incredible amount of mischief before I went west to work with John Avery, now two of my best wine mates have gone. My thoughts and prayers go to Dounie, Anthony and Emma.
    The wine trade produces great characters and Tim was up there with the greatest. He will be sorely missed.
    John

  42. Christopher MacKenzie-Beevor says:

    Together with Nick Bay and John Murray (not to forget John Russell and “Ricko” Fox) I started in the “grown up world” 50 years ago with Tim in the Wine Library at Fortnums. It was not really a “grown up world” with Tim around – although he could be serious (for short periods from time to time). Over the past 50 years Tim has been a wonderful friend – it never mattered how long it was between meetings we just carried on where we had left off the time before. As is evident from all the comments here and elsewhere, his untimely passing has left a huge hole in so many of our lives and I for one will miss his wicked sense of humour, his kindness and generosity and his complete friendship.

  43. Charles Burnell-Nugent says:

    A great loss to the World of Wine, and especially Port. A delightful/charmiing person who will be very greatly missed by all who knew Tim, and my sympathy to Tim’s whole family.
    I once helped to run Fortnum and Mason’s Wine Library myself in the early 1970’s. RIP Tim.

    Charles Burnell-Nugent

  44. Christopher Lyon says:

    One of my saddest days to read about Tim which can hardly believe it although I knew he wasn’t well; a very dear lovely friend; he never grew up properly which was his great charm and quality’, and kept us all on our toes. A great chum at Dolamores and took any drudgery out of any dull working day – I cannot remember one! With my best love to Dounie, and Emma and Anthony. With my best love and God Bless. Christopher Lyon

  45. Paul Finch says:

    One of the great colourful characters of the trade, Tim leaves a huge void in the life of so many people. I first met him working at Fortnum & Mason and he was already honing his wonderful mischievous brand of humour, no one was spared! Yesterday’s funeral with many hundred’s of people attending was a testimony to the love and affection that so many people felt for him

  46. Henry Joynson says:

    Tim SC was my cousin and he and his wonderful sister Anthea grew up with my father and uncles, so more like an uncle. My grandmother was a Stanley Clarke and his aunt and amused us all with stories or Stanley Clarke wit and fun. I came back from Africa for this sad occasion but spent a large part of the funeral chuckling at the wonderful stories that were ohh so familiar in their cheekiness and ingenuity. We will all miss Tim, he left us far too soon but he left us all smiling……. he was a Stanley Clarke form his wonderful nose to his wicked sense of fun. He an Granny will be laughing away and pulling each others legs wherever they are now. He will be missed terribly by all and especially his family. Go well Cousin Tim..go well

  47. David Sheffield says:

    Tim knew pretty much everyone and was generous to all. I never really thanked him properly for taking me with him, when he was delivering wine to Margaret Thatcher in her Belgravia home. Without hesitation, she signed a large bottle of port, which I auctioned with great success, on behalf of the Menorca Cricket Club! Tim was thoughtful, kind and humorous as his testimonials demonstrate so well. Thanks for the memories, Tim.

  48. Simon Lambert says:

    The sad news of Tim’s passing has just reached my desk. When John Murray left Lyall Mews for Avery’s I made the reverse trip and for a few years shared the same flat with Tim and the late Richard Hobson while I was then working for Patrick Grubb at Sotheby’s. I subsequently left the UK and have resided in the USA for many years, still in the wine trade. However my memories of Tim, his humour and never ending pranks have always stayed with me and have often brought a smile to my face. Who else would have a defused hand grenade at the end of the toilet chain rather than a porcelain handle! RIP, Tim.

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