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Jancis Robinson: A Journey through the World of Wine

Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson, a prominent figure in the world of wine left an indelible mark through her extensive career as a wine critic, journalist, and writer. Born on April 22, 1950, in Carlisle, Cumbria, Robinson’s passion for wine has made her one of the most respected voices in the industry[1]. This post explores her life, career, and contributions to the world of wine.

Early Life and Education

Jancis Robinson’s journey into the world of wine began in an unexpected manner. She studied mathematics and philosophy at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, and initially pursued a career in marketing, working for Thomson Holidays. She did not know that her love for numbers and philosophy would eventually lead her to the world of wine, where precision and complexity play vital roles.

A Wine Career Blossoms

Robinson’s wine career begun on December 1, 1975, when she became the assistant editor for the trade magazine Wine & Spirit. This position marked the beginning of her exploration into the intricate world of wine[2]. Her passion and dedication to the craft propelled her to achieve the title of Master of Wine in 1984, a remarkable accomplishment that showcased her commitment to excellence.

From 1995 to 2010, Robinson served as British Airways’ wine consultant, overseeing the selection of wines for the BA Concorde cellar’s luxury collection. Her influence on wine extended beyond the written word, impacting the choices made by one of the world’s leading airlines.

The Oxford Companion to Wine: A Definitive Work

Robinson’s most significant contribution to the wine world is arguably “The Oxford Companion to Wine.” This comprehensive wine encyclopedia, edited by Robinson, is considered the most authoritative reference in the field. It took five years to complete and was first published in 1994. The depth of knowledge and attention to detail in this work solidified her reputation as one of the leading writers of educational wine material.

The World Atlas of Wine: Navigating Terroirs

In collaboration with Hugh Johnson, Robinson co-authored “The World Atlas of Wine.” This highly acclaimed wine atlas provides insights into vineyards, regions, and terroirs from around the world. Its detailed maps and rich descriptions have made it an essential resource for wine enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Educational Initiatives

Robinson’s commitment to educating others about wine is evident in her various educational initiatives. She appeared in a 10-episode wine course on BBC 2 television in 1995, which later became a DVD series[3]. “Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course,” a book accompanying the series, has seen multiple editions. In 2015, she launched an online wine course titled “Mastering Wine – Shortcuts to Success” on Udemy. Her dedication to wine education continues with the exclusive online course “An Understanding of Wine” for BBC Maestro in 2022.

Jancis Robinson | Source

Accolades and Honors

Robinson’s contributions to the wine industry have not gone unnoticed. She has received numerous accolades and honors throughout her career. Some of her notable achievements include:

  • Honorary doctorate from the Open University.
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2003.
  • Officer of the Order of Agricultural Merit in France in 2010.
  • Commander of the Order of Entrepreneurial Merit (Category of Agricultural Merit) in Portugal in 2011.
  • Multiple Glenfiddich Awards and André Simon Memorial Awards.
  • Decanter’s “1999 Woman of the Year” recognition.
  • An Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole in 2016.
  • Four James Beard Awards in the US.

A Cordial Controversy

Robinson’s career was not without moments of controversy. She engaged in what the media dubbed a “war of words” with fellow wine critic Robert Parker over the 2003 vintage of Château Pavie. While the press portrayed it dramatically, Robinson and Parker maintained a cordial relationship in the wine world.

Wine Grapes: A Magnum Opus

In 2012, Robinson co-authored the monumental book “Wine Grapes” with Julia Harding MW and Jose Vouillamoz. This 1,200-page tome provides an exhaustive catalogue of 1,368 vine varieties. The book received acclaim and won multiple major wine book awards, further cementing Robinson’s status as a preeminent wine authority.

A Silver Screen Appearance

Robinson’s passion for wine took her to the silver screen in 2018 when she appeared in the film “SOMM 3.” In the film, she tasted some of the world’s finest wines and engaged in discussions about the historic Judgment of Paris, alongside respected wine figures and the late Steven Spurrier.

A Life beyond Wine

Jancis Robinson’s personal life includes a marriage to food writer Nick Lander, author of “The Art of the Restaurateur,” and their three children, Julia, William, and Rose. Despite her illustrious career, she continues to embrace the joys of family and life beyond wine.

Did you know?

Currently Jancis Robinson writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and writes for her website, updated daily.

In conclusion, Jancis Robinson’s journey through the world of wine is a testament to her dedication, expertise, and passion for the craft.
Her contributions as a wine critic, journalist, and writer have not only shaped the industry but have also educated and inspired countless wine enthusiasts worldwide.
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