Christopher Stevens was born in Singapore in 1941 on February 28th - the same day of the year as the late Andri Simon, famous wine man and founder of the International Wine and Food Society. Escaping from the Japanese (now a major wine market) he returned to the UK and stayed for schooling. In 1959 he joined the wine trade and spent six months studying sherry in Jerez de la Frontera and a further six months studying wine and Spanish at Granada University.
In 1960 he started as a cellarman at Hedges and Butler in London (England's oldest wine merchants, established in 1667). In 1964 he won the Vintners' Scholarship - given to one student a year by the City Livery Company of the Worshipful Company of Vintners - studying for six months in the vineyards of France, Germany, Spain and Portugal.
In 1972 he left Britain to be the export manager for eight French wine companies covering most of the world outside of Europe and the 'emerging' wine markets and vineyards of the west coast of USA, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. During that year he also passed the Institute of Master Wine exam, among the first 33 people to do so. Today there are still less than 300 people who have passed their Master of Wines around the world. The percentage pass mark is still as it was in 1972, on three percent.
He started his own company, Vinifera, representing many of the greatest vineyards and wineries in the world. Most are so good that he does not have any of them in his own cellar. Vinifera as a company trades only on the Asian and Australasian market.
Since 1972 Kit has lived in France, Australia and New Zealand and has done a lot of media work, writing, broadcasting, TV and lecturing, much in the Far East. La vie en rose? Perhaps, but the grass is always greener the other side of the world.
He has been known as Kit since his Singaporean 'amah' nurse could only pronounce Christopher as 'Kitifer'.
In Australia, the top trophy of best methode champenoise sparkling wine is the Kit Stevens Trophy.
2003 The Vintage of Mars and the Inferno
Mars, the Begetter of War. Red Planet, Red fire, flames everywhere. Forests ablaze in the worst fires for a long time in Australia, the USA, Canada, Spain, Portugal and above all France. Flaming heat throughout France and all of Europe.
The long hot fractious French and European summer of 2003.
Vous etes vivant - Restez-le. That is what the sign said above the autoroute near Lyon airport. - You are alive - stay like that. It was of course meant to be an admonition to careful driving but frankly going from the Rhone to Bordeaux for Vinexpo was similar to leaving the frying pan for the fire. When temperatures reach 42 degrees C in the shade, one wonders if one really is still alive.
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