Before we look ahead to whatever 2022 may bring, Wine Spectator‘s editors would like to remember the wine industry pioneers, innovators, leaders and chroniclers we lost this year, some of them to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year we bid farewell to Steven Spurrier, organizer of the famed 1976 Paris Tasting, as well as Châteauneuf-du-Pape star Philippe Cambie and Barolo champion Pio Boffa. We also lost California wine pioneers David Bruce and Au Bon Climat co-founder Jim Clendenen, and Hollywood producer-turned-Oregon vintner Mark Tarlov. We’ll fondly remember these members of our community that we lost in 2021.
Alexander “Sandy” Block
The longtime Legal Sea Foods wine director was warm and personable, with a knowing twinkle in his eye.
The visionary leader of the historic Pio Cesare winery converted his family’s négoce operation to one focused on Barolo and Barbaresco’s top vineyards.
The Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir pioneer balanced a medical practice with a life in wine, cultivating grapes 2,100 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
The larger-than-life winemaker was the driving force behind many Châteauneuf-du-Pape wineries raising their quality.
From his Au Bon Climat winery in Santa Maria Valley, Clendenen helped raise the quality of California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Spanish vintner put the Ribera del Duero region on the map with powerful, outstanding Tempranillos.
After creating a cult wine from the remote Val d’Orcia hills of Tuscany at Tenuta Trinoro, he became a key figure in the renaissance of Sicily’s Mount Etna at his Passopisciaro winery.
The longtime New York Times editor and wine writer was knowledgeable and kind, with a quick wit.
Benjamin de Rothschild
The head of his branch of the famous banking family owned seven wine estates in Bordeaux and beyond.
Alessandro de Renzis Sonnino
The elegant, silver-haired and bearded Tuscan aristocrat took over his family’s Castello Sonnino and its Chianti vineyards in Montespertoli more than 30 years ago.
The British champion of all things vinous was best-known for organizing the 1976 Judgment of Paris.
Passionate about Pinot Noir, the movie producer spent his later years founding the Evening Land, Chapter 24 and Rose & Arrow wine brands.
From her farm near Beaune, she represented small winegrowers from around France to U.S. importers and consumers, and was a valuable mentor.
The winemaker and co-founder of Berlucchi was a Franciacorta pioneer.