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Jack de Carteret MW

Jack de Carteret MW

Became an MW 1969, died 24 March 2021

Jack de Carteret MW, died peacefully at Dorset County Hospital on 24 March 2021. He was 89 years old.

Jack was born in Bordeaux and spent his whole working life in wine. He became an MW in 1969 and celebrated his 50 years as a member in 2019.

He spent 15 years (less two for National Service) with Sichel & Co (Bordeaux), working with Allan Sichel then later Peter Sichel, six years with Greene King & Sons (Bury St Edmunds), five years with F & E May (London), and 23 years with Eldridge Pope & Co (Dorset).

During his time in the wine trade, he covered most administrative, buying, and selling roles, the latter for the last 12 years of his career. 

Memories from Masters of Wine

By Robin Crameri MW

When Jack joined Greene King as cellar manager I was immediately impressed by his tasting ability. An example of this was when we attended a blind red Burgundy tasting prior to the MW exam. One of the wines had an odd aroma which Jack found disappointing. Having discussed this with the MW in charge, he was assured that it was typical of this wine. Coincidently the very same wine appeared in the MW exam a year later and Jack recognised it and was able to give the precise name and details of this Burgundy.

He had a natural love and affinity towards wine of any origin. His tasting notes were a joy to read. Jack was a kind, gentle and understanding man. During his time at Greene King, we formed a lasting friendship for which I value greatly.

By Sebastian Payne MW

I remember Jack with great affection from his time with Fred May, which was my first job. He was a natural and gifted taster, unimpressed by fancy labels, and with good experience of handling wine in bulk from his time with Sichel in Bordeaux and with Robin Crameri at Greene King. An essential skill in those days. There was an occasion when we tasted a bottle of Lafite and Fonbadet side by side and he said the Fonbadet was a better wine, and on that occasion he was right. He covered most of southern England and Wales for Fred, but his skills were wasted in the job and Eldridge Pope was a better home for him. Modest to a fault, except when it came to his confident judgement of wine, a kinder man you would not hope to meet. Rest in peace, Jack.

By John Salvi MW

Jack de Carteret MW was born in Bordeaux in 1932 and was, therefore, five years older than me. He was employed by Allan Sichel, who sent him to London, to the offices of Allan Sichel Limited, after training him in the Bordeaux office and cellars of Sichel et Cie. When I joined the company, in 1955, fresh from Westminster Public School and 18 years old, there he was, in charge of the tasting room. This was the holy of holies of the London office and where Allan Sichel spent much of his time.

Jack would prepare all the tastings, for Allan and for visiting customers, and clear up afterwards. He kept everything in perfect order. He oversaw the dock samples. In those days almost all wine from Bordeaux was shipped in Barrel, either for customers or to be bottled in our cellars in Aldgate. The customs would send us a strange-shaped bottle for us to taste and approve the wine before clearance. Jack taught me all about this and about decanting wines for office luncheons. He rather regarded the tasting room as his private Domaine and kept me under tight control.

Allan, who had a very quirky sense of humour, had a plaque on the tasting room door that read, “Abandon hope all ye that enter here”. If he was in a good mood, he might let us have a couple of dock samples to take home. Jack of course got the pick of the bunch, but neither of us survived unscathed when Allan once found us drinking them in the office.

The other young salesman, who shared space with us, and dock samples, was Colin Quinton. Once Allan Sichel put his head around the tasting room door and said, “Jack, you’re fired”. In shock, the three of us drank several dock samples until an hour later Allan’s head came round the door again and said, “Jack you’re reinstated”. He never got an explanation!

Jack was kind, gentle and wonderful company. Many years later, when my uncle lived in Dorchester where Jack worked for Eldridge Pope, we invited him for a drink. He told us how he had lost a son at a very early age. When he left, my uncle, who was chief geriatrician for Dorsetshire and a staunch Catholic, said to me, “There goes a very fine, honourable and upright man”. No truer word about Jack was ever spoken.