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Celebrating 25 Years with Goedhuis & Co – Interview with Tom Stopford Sackville, MD


Hello Tom, I believe you have worked at Goedhuis for 25 years! How and where did your wine journey begin?
My first job was picking grapes at Chateau Palmer in 1986, and I was pretty useless to be honest, slow and there is some English blood in that vintage. Actually I had a bottle recently and it’s a delicious wine. That was organised by Johnny Goedhuis who was a close friend of my father who also happened to be non-executive Chairman of a very different looking Goedhuis & Co back then.

Then I did a short stint at the Goedhuis offices in Battersea, before heading to Australia to make wine at Petaluma with Brian Croser in 1989. Another short stint at Goedhuis followed that, and then in 1992 I went and worked in Bordeaux at Compagnie Medocaine, before again returning to the Goedhuis offices. I was employed to run a joint venture called Cavendish Goedhuis which in the end we purchased in 2004 when I became a Director. Cavendish Goedhuis was the Fine Wine side of Goedhuis & Co, and essentially the Goedhuis & Co of today was born then.

I became Managing Director in 2005 when Johnny became Chairman and I moved to Hong Kong in 2008 to set up our office there, after the HK Government’s bold decision to scrap duty on wine (which had been as high as 80% two years earlier).


How would you describe your work for Goedhuis today?
I am still Managing Director of the UK business, there are things that go with that role but we have a 7 person executive board so there is a lot of support there, especially from the Chairman. My current role is building the business in Asia, that’s probably my day job but I still am very involved in what goes on in the UK, speak to the London office regularly and keep up with my UK client base, so there’s a bit of work most evenings too. During the En Primeur season, or if we have a specific offer with limited stocks, I can be at my desk until quite late.

Having worked in the industry for quarter of a century, what would you say are the most defining changes within the industry over the years?
Transparency provided by the internet, massively increased competition and the sheer number of wine traders which has risen hugely, the amount of wine that used to go to the States that now heads in the opposite direction to Asia, the improved quality of wines (especially Burgundy) and the much reduced percentage of over weight wine merchants.


You are now based in Hong Kong, how would you foresee the wine trade evolving in Hong Kong and mainland China over the next 5, 10 years?
I think Hong Kong will continue to consume, and I mean consume not just collect, the largest amount of fine wine on the planet per head, and I think mainland China will evolve in a way other wine drinking countries have, and by that I mean starting at the bottom and moving up through the gears. It always concerned me that the wine culture started with Lafite, and we know the reasons for that, but since the crack down in Beijing on corruption and bribery China can start to learn about cheaper wines first and improve their experiences and they get older and richer, because wine will appeal to a larger demographic, not just the billionaires.

Asian food often comprises a mix of small dishes, with a wide variety of flavours – which wines would you advise for this approach to dining?
Riesling, Chardonnay with drive and minerality and Pinot Noir but I am not a huge fan of taking food and wine pairing too seriously. Great wine will go with most things and I think there is a lot of baloney spouted on this subject.

Taking time out of the wine trade to spend time with daughter, Cara – sharing special moments, drinking from the bottle.

Which wine have you tried recently which completely surprised you (in a good way)?
Ive just opened a bottle of Jean Philippe Fichet’s Bourgogne Blanc from the 2009 vintage, just his straight one, not the VV, and its still so youthful and refreshing. I shouldn’t be surprised (I hope Jean Philippe doesn’t read this, ha ha !) but for such a humble cuvee from such a hot vintage its been brilliantly handled.

For those in the early stages of building a cellar, what would be your first advice?
In the first few years don’t get too scientific about it. Spend what you can on quality, take a 5 year view on everything you buy and then take stock after 4/5 years and then you can build around your early purchases and fill in the gaps. Make sure you buy enough Pinot Noir. You will need it!

Are you an avid reader on the subject of wine, and do you believe that education builds appreciation of wine?
I do read a bit about wine but not a huge amount. Im more of a crime novel reader, currently working my way through the excellent Jo Nesbo Harry Hole series. Education definitely builds appreciation. 100%.

If you could share a glass of wine with any living personality which wine would you drink and who would it be with?
1978 Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Cros Parantoux Henri Jayer with Jose Mourinho.

What are your personal favourite white and red wines on the Goedhuis list of wines?
That changes a lot but in my wine fridge at home I am working my way through a case of Saint Aubin 1er Cru 2011 from Marc Colin which is such superb value for the quality, so that’s my white. The red will always come from the red Burgundy section, and last night I cracked a Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Clos des Forets St Georges 2007 which ticked all the boxes for me.


Tom with his daughter, Cara.