CLASSIC WINES FINE WINE Fine Wine Articles/Interviews Wine and Food Diary of Giles MacDonogh

My Memories of Michael Broadbent 

Written by Giles MacDonogh

My Memories of Michael Broadbent 

By Giles MacDonogh

I can’t think when I first met Michael. It was sometime after 1985, for sure; maybe the late eighties. Like everybody else at that time, I made contributions to the
brand’ wine books: Hugh Johnson, Oz Clarke and Broadbent. They could not be expected to know everything so we little mice filled in the gaps. I have a copy of his Pocket Guide to Wine Vintages for 1993 in
my hand. I think I must have done the Austrian section,although I am nowhere acknowledged.
It was in Austria I got to know him. I recall being alerted to some wines found in the cellar of the philosopherLudwig Wittgenstein’s sister. They had been badly kept,
and many of them were only half full, or half empty, but still there were great vintages of Bordeaux there such as 1899 and 1900, and a few others all dating from before
the Great War. I remember calling Michael. He was naturally interested, but before a package could be put together the stock was decimated. I myself only drank
about half a glass of 1908 Château Margaux from a bottle about a third full. The wine threw off a great minty sweetness for a while, then withered and died before my
eyes.In the early nineties Michael was often in Vienna. In those days the big wine fair was held in a modern exhibition hall on the far side of the Prater park. One morning when I had got to bed extremely late I had a telephone call in my room: ‘It’s Michael!’ said a cheery voice. He was waiting for me in the lobby to go to the
fair. I wasn’t dressed and I told him to go on without me.

He probably wanted an interpreter. He was the world’s worst linguist but he was always terrifically impressed by others who could master foreign languages.
Linguist or no linguist, it was worth being with Michael for his star quality. In the German-speaking world he was a god. Winemakers seemed to genuflect at his approach.

About the author

Giles MacDonogh

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