Trevor Elliott - An Appreciation
posted 24th May 2023
It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of Trevor Elliott. He was a great wine educator, undertaking rigorous research on the topics he presented, but always aware that his audience sought both knowledge and entertainment. He was also a steadfast friend.
Trevor was an early member of the Association of Wine Educators. He recognised quickly the value of the 'collective' and worked tirelessly and fastidiously for many years to develop the Association and ensure it maintained the highest standards. Wink Lorch has written elsewhere on the valuable assistance he gave in the formation of the Constitution. He was never afraid to raise pertinent and difficult questions at meetings, but was always constructive and recognised the challenges faced and the hard work undertaken by those tasked with the running of the AWE.
Trevor came to wine as a second career. He was originally a chemistry teacher, who went through the ranks and became a headmaster. I really believe that those who come to wine professionally from a ground point of a love of the product make the best educators, writers and winemakers. Although Trevor's backgrounded was firmly grounded in science, he recognised that this is far from the wine lover's mind when tasting and appreciating the liquid in the glass.
He did not suffer fools gladly. I well recall an incident with Trevor in Bordeaux some 20 years ago. We were seated next to each other, tasting Bordeaux Supérieurs, at an event hosted by the Syndicat Viticole des AOC Bordeaux & Bordeaux Supérieur. The wines presented by the Château owners and winemakers. We both raised one of the wines to our noses at the same time, and immediately gave each other 'the look'. The wine was haloanisole tainted (so-called cork taint). Trying to be discrete, I took my glass to the property owner, and indicated our concerns. "Cest parfait", was the response. With a shrug of my shoulders I returned to Trevor. "I'm not having that", he said and immediately went to remonstrate with the Château owner. Some months later I visited the property in question, and upon entering the chai was immediately struck by the musty reek of haloanisoles - the barrel room was contaminated. It was this incident with Trevor that set me on the road that culminated in the writing of 'Wine Faults and Flaws: A Practical Guide'. Trevor proof read some chapters of this, and the entire 'Wine Production and Quality' book, offering numerous valuable suggestions. Correct grammar was important to him, and we had many a long discussion on split infinitives and the use (or not) of the Oxford Comma.
Trevor's wine knowledge was broad, and he was an expert on the wines of South Africa, Portugal and, particularly, Madeira. To my mind, his book 'The wines of Madeira' is a seminal work. Somewhat amusingly the title of the book on the cover is all in lower case! In the late stages of the book's preparation he hit something of a wall, and I spent several days with him helping in structuring of the work, and undertaking some sub-editing. He was eternally grateful for this. The book is self-published, but he sold copies in many countries and received numerous great comments from readers. The reviews on Amazon are all 5 star.
Trevor: thanks for being such a good friend, for all your work for the AWE and the world of wine. And Trevor, please forgive any grammatical errors in this appreciation!