Serena Sutcliffe, MW, Head of Sotheby's International Wine Department,
is awarded the Légion d'Honneur - becoming the first member of the British wine trade ever to have been awarded this prestigious title
THURSDAY, JULY 13, 2006 -- Serena Sutcliffe, MW, Head of Sotheby's International Wine Department, has been honoured with the title of Chevalier dans l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur. The first member of the British wine trade ever to have been awarded this prestigious title, Serena Sutcliffe has received the award in recognition of her seminal role in encouraging international appreciation of French wines.
On being notified of the award, Serena Sutcliffe said: "It is a great honour, beyond my dreams, and I am deeply grateful that France, the country that has so enriched my life, has recognized my work. In my fourth decade of selling French wines, from the grandest to the more modest, I hope to have shown the brilliance of so many wine producers who labour for our enjoyment."
"Perhaps the aspect of my work that has given me the most pleasure is being able to lead tastings of France's greatest wines and to share them with fellow wine lovers. The talent that makes these wines never fails to astonish me and I have always wished to communicate my admiration for the enormous skill that creates such bottles. I shall continue to try and live up to this award."
Having been responsible for the sale of millions of bottles of French wines in the course of her career, and with a plethora of highly-regarded books and articles to her name, Serena Sutcliffe continues to write, broadcast and lecture widely on the subject, and her presence is keenly sought by audiences as far afield as Asia and the Americas, as well as throughout Europe.
In her 15 years at Sotheby's, Serena Sutcliffe has staged some 300 auctions of fine and rare wines, in the course of which approximately 30 million bottles of wine have fallen under the hammer, many achieving record-breaking prices – attracting the attention of an ever widening circle of collectors, all of whom relish the witty, pithy, and unerringly accurate tasting notes on which her reputation rests.
A Master of Wine and Head of Sotheby's International Wine Department, Serena Sutcliffe is considered one of the world's leading authorities on wine and is an internationally recognized wine writer and renowned taster.
Her interest in wine developed in France where she was working as a translator. Her passion inspired her to change careers altogether and in 1971 she moved to London to join the wine trade.
By 1976 she was the second woman ever to be admitted to the Institute of Masters of Wine after passing the rigorous required exam at her first attempt. She served as Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine (1994-1995). In 1988 the French Government made her a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of her contribution to literature on French wine.
Today, she heads Sotheby's International Wine Department and is a member of Sotheby's European Board. Her Department holds wine auctions in London and New York. Sotheby's holds the record for the largest Wine Sale ever, the Millennium Sale which took place in New York in November 1999 and raised $14.4 million (£10.1 million). In 2003, the Robert Paul Collection and the Harter Family Cellar were auctioned in New York, while in December 2004, Sotheby's New York held the special sale of wines direct from Domaine Clarence Dillon (Châteaux Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion). In 2005, Sotheby's London held the largest wine sale in Europe of the year and in 2006, Sotheby's New York sold the cellar of Russell H. Frye which made $7.8 million, the fifth largest wine sale ever.
Serena Sutcliffe leads wine tastings around the world and shares a passion for music and travel with her husband, David Peppercorn, also a Master of Wine.
Among the books Ms. Sutcliffe has written are Great Vineyards and Winemakers published in London, The United States, Sydney and translated into Dutch; The Wine Drinker's Handbook also published in the U.K. and United States, with versions translated into Dutch and Spanish; A Celebration of Champagne which was Decanter Magazine's book of the year in 1988; co-authored with Cyril Ray Bollinger on Bollinger Champagne; Guide to the Wines of Burgundy which won the Silver Medal of the German Gastronomic Academy, and was Decanter Magazine's book of the year in 1986, now in its 8th edition. Ms.Sutcliffe also wrote the introductory chapters to Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia published in 1997.
Serena is a regular lecturer and broadcaster in Europe, the United States and Asia, and writes frequently for publications all over the world. She founded Sotheby's Wine Courses, which aim to spread knowledge and enthusiasm for the world's wines.
In 1993 she was made a member of the prestigious Académie Internationale du Vin. In 1996, Ms. Sutcliffe was given the Ruth Ellen Church Award in the United States for her outstanding contributions to wine and food journalism. In 2002, she received the New York Institute of Technology's Professional Excellence Award and in 2006, the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Society of Bacchus America.