Comments

  1. I met Jeff in the late 90’s when he appointed me to lead his finance team at Bristol & West plc. He was made CEO in 1999, and I was proud to be selected to remain in his senior leadership team, becoming Finance Director. With Ian Kennedy, Martin Palmer and Dick Jenkins, we continued to work together for several years within the Bank of Ireland Group. I admired Jeff immensely. His analytical skills and single-minded determination were particularly inspirational, and he was a challenging yet supportive boss. We became good colleagues and eventually friends over the years, although Jeff was always a fairly private man at work. After he left the BOI Group, my family and I were lucky enough to join Jeff and Theda in Bonnieux for a weekend – and what a lovely weekend that was! Not only were we spoiled with a genuinely warm welcome and delicious home cooked food, but Jeff also treated us to a wonderful vertical tasting of Chateau Neuf du Pape wines from his cellar – a fabulous insight to some special wines! We stayed in touch after his retirement, as he supported me building a non-executive portfolio. More recently, we began working again together on the Albion Venture Capital board in 2017, where it was clear that Jeff had certainly not “retired” – he was as sharp as ever, and was obviously thoroughly enjoying various business ventures, his family life, and his many hobbies. He remains an inspiration to me, and his unexpected death is so very sad. I shall miss him and my heartfelt sympathy is with all of his family.

  2. I have known Jeff since 2007 when he joined me on the board of an investment trust. Over the years we worked together I grew to appreciate his many qualities – he was thoughtful, incisive and expressed his views quietly, clearly and firmly – never afraid to challenge the views of other colleagues, but always seeking to arrive at a sensible conclusion which commanded general support.
    I also came to regard him as a friend – of course it probably helped that we were both Arsenal supporters. In fact, the last time I saw him was at an Arsenal match in early December last year, to which he had very generously invited me.
    I know that all of us on the investment trust board will miss Jeff greatly – not only for his insight and wisdom and the calm rational way he stated his opinions, but quite simply for his warmth and friendship.

  3. Like Ben,I first met Jeff at a Wine-Pages offline about 15 years ago. He shared my passion for fine wine,especially from the NRhone , and we regularly enjoyed lunch and the odd dinner together over the next decade or so.
    I also had the great pleasure of staying with Jeff at Bonnieux with a few other oenophiles , where we enjoyed a memorable few days,cycling in the beautiful Luberon by day, and drinking fine wine by night.
    My last contact with Jeff was a few months ago,when he very generously donated a substantial sum to my Prostate Cancer charity lunch,even though he knew that he was unable to attend.
    He will be greatly missed .

  4. Tribute to Jeff Warren
    25 January 2020

    I got to know Jeff in the 1980s when he joined our little family in Golden Yard in Hampstead. Back then my two brothers and I were teenagers or entering our early twenties. Over the ensuing 30 over years we all got to know Jeff very well. Happily for us, he was an extraordinarily kind, intelligent and selfless man, who despite several early dramas (mainly centred around us three brothers) was a force for good and reconciliation within our family. As time wore on, our little blended family grew to include wives and then eventually six beloved grandchildren. Throughout this entire period, Jeff and my mother have been the heart and centre of our growing family; and, I would go further – frequently, they were the rock to which we clung to ride out the occasional storms we faced as we made our way through our lives.

    All three brothers together with their wives and children would return countless times to visit during holidays and especially for Christmas. We would meet in Hampstead and also in Provence which was Jeff and our family’s other spiritual home. When Christmas came around, Jeff would dress up in his Father Christmas outfit and gamely climb down from the roof to distribute presents to his awe-struck grandchildren. The love he showed them was truly wonderful. He would also take them to Arsenal games, play chess with them, debate with them, give them his favourite albums, baby sit them. The list goes on.

    About 15 years ago, after a very successful career which took him to occupying the position of CEO of Bristol and West, he retired. Jeff, however, was never one to sit still and he immediately launched himself into his many hobbies including wine tasting, gliding, going to the gym and cycling. He also invested in many start-up businesses and would actively join the boards of several companies (sometimes as chairman) to provide valuable advice to a younger generation. I often wondered why he didn’t just sit back and take it easy rather than busy himself with all these start-ups, but Jeff could never just be inactive. His life was always a hive of activity. He loved life and lived it to the full.

    This past Christmas, we all decided to meet in Provence. We had a wonderful time. We ate great food, drank excellent wine and handed out presents to each other. At New Years Eve, we went to Sherri and Andreas’ house to bring in the new year. Again, we had great food and wine and then some brilliant fireworks. We didn’t stay till midnight, however, as the grandchildren were exhausted. Jeff as always was a quiet, contemplative presence throughout this time, happily pouring out more of the wonderful wine that he had selected.

    Some months ago, my daughter, Mia, had bought a new record player and was keen to get some vinyl albums to play on them. Luckily Jeff had an absolute treasure trove of great albums and he selected a few of the best ones for Mia to take back to Malaysia with us. So it was that on Sunday 5th of January, my wife, two children and myself got up early, hugged Jeff and my mother (or “Moma” as she is known by the grandchildren) and made our way to the airport for the flight back to Malaysia. We had packed Mia’s precious vinyl albums in our suitcases surrounded by clothes so that they wouldn’t shatter.

    The next morning, we arrived at our home in Malaysia, exhausted from the long flight and fell through the front door to hug our excited dog, who had not seen us for three weeks. It was at that exact moment that I received a phone call from my brother, Michael, to tell us that Jeff had passed. My children, still hugging the dog, knew from the dark look on my face that something terrible had happened. When we told them the tears flowed. Later on in the morning, I walked into Mia’s room to see how she was doing. She was lovingly touching the albums that Jeff had selected for her. She cried again and I hugged her.

    I returned to London shortly thereafter to be with my mother and two brothers. Since then our family has been very touched by the wonderful things people have said about Jeff. It was clear to us that he was loved by many and held in very high regard by numerous people both within and outside of the family. He will be sorely missed by all of us but we are all very grateful for the time that we have spent with him and we will treasure it forever.

  5. André Simon, the Frenchman who has been described as “the charismatic leader of the English wine trade for almost all of the first half of the 20th century” was quoted as saying: “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.”
    That sums up well how for Jeff wine was an immensely pleasurable addition to any occasion. Whether to take the sting from a less-than stellar performance by his beloved Arsenal, to celebrate a family wedding or the birth of a new grandchild or just to pair with dinner, whatever and wherever dinner was to be that evening, Jeff could always produce the perfect bottle.
    Having grown up in America, I came to Jeff’s table with a taste for the bigness and boldness of Napa Valley wines. He taught me to also appreciate the more elegant, subtle styles of Burgandy, Chateauneuf and a plethora of German Rieslings and Spätburgunders – not to mention how to pronounce “Spätburgunder”. In that sense, Jeff’s taste in wine reflected his personality – quietly observant, never overbearing but with an acidic wit. He was ever the gentleman.
    I have always thought that, much like a novel, wine was for Jeff an adventure. It was an opportunity to experience a particular terroir at a particular moment in time. Without ever leaving the kitchen in Hampstead or the terrace in Bonnieux, we could explore wine regions the world over, get to know – and critique – winemakers whom we would never meet and debate the vagaries of nature that contributed uniquely to that particular bottle.
    To understand the reverence with which Jeff approached wine, you perhaps need look no further than the gifts he chose for his 6 grandchildren to celebrate their births. While other grandfathers might turn up with a stuffed toy or an irreverent onesie, Jeff purchased a carefully curated selection of vintage wines from the year of their birth, all dutifully stored in bonded warehouses waiting for them to come of age. I know he would have loved nothing more than to be there to share those bottles with them and to pass on his passion to them.
    Jeff was generous, kind, intelligent, loving, funny and so many other wonderful things. On the most ordinary of afternoons, sitting round the table chatting about momentous news of the day or nothing at all, he would open and pour a bottle. At those time you often had the sense that this was a perfectly crafted moment in time, a sense that something that was otherwise perfectly ordinary was somehow extraordinary. Jeff was extraordinary.

  6. Our cousin Jeff. A man of many parts. We first met Uncle Fred, Aunty Gwen ,Jeff and his brother Peter when they returned from living in Dublin. The Warren family always enjoyed family gatherings, in the early days we always met up for a family gathering at Christmas and Easter and Nana’s birthday party in January, Party games, good food and dancing we’re always on the menu. These family gatherings have continued throughout our lives where we would catch up. I always appreciated his calm, honest approach to life. He had so many varied interests and qualities. That quizzical look that he would give you, the walk all part of Jeff. He loved so many different things, Family, music, gliding, cycling, Arsenal, France.
    I remember our Uncle enjoying a trip to Arsenal that he had arranged as a birthday present, and his visits down to Southend to see him.
    Jeff you have inspired me to live life to the full. We will all miss you.

  7. Any single moment we had the chance to spend at Teda and Jeff’s summer house in Bonnieux was really precious, a summer breeze, a moment stop in time, surrounded by this beautiful international family, which seemed so amazing and tropical from our children’s eyes. We are so thankful for each of these moments and all the great memories.
    Introduced by Eva and Julian to Teda and Jeff, we remember being a little impressed by Jeff, probably by his natural standing and the barrier language (at this time, we were mainly speaking french with Eva). Jeff, always welcoming with his big smiles and small glasses on, he would go find his big wine glasses for degustation to offer us a taste of his beautiful collection.
    Simple thing about Jeff : he was always either leaving from the house with his bicycle, or coming back from a long ride in the provençal countryside (with what we could imagine to be really sore legs). Any time we would ask him about how the ride had been, his answer would always be the same : “très bien!” putting his thumb up.
    He could also be sitted in a sofa and reading or working on his computer, still bringing a good and peaceful atmosphere in the living room. Some of us also had the chance to visit Teda and Jeff in their house in the Hampsteads, where we were also very well welcomed by big hugs and magic smiles. We are so thankful to have been able to meet this talented, impressive, knowledgeable, carrying man that Jeff was. We are standing by your side and deeply share your sorrows about his tragic and unexpected loss. It is more than hard to imagine him away, but we are very sure that despite the fact that he will never be where he once was, he will always be where we, where you are. We send love and support to all of the family and friends, and more specifically our lovely Teda.

  8. I was a bit shy about what to say about Jeff. I had known him a comparatively short time, and it’s wonderful to read all these stories from his family and long term friends. I particularly like the story from Joel. It’s strange how many reflections mirror what I felt, that Jeff was reserved, but beneath that gentle smile, and sharp gaze, he was ultra-kind and caring. It was lovely to see him and Theda together, quietly assured and relaxed in each other’s company. It puzzled me that a man who was so talented and generous – I really admired his support of young entrepreneurs – could be so modest. He was very special and we shall all miss him terribly.

  9. Since many years we have been spending every year a few weeks at Theda´s and Jeff´s beautiful property in Bonnieux. Those weeks were full of happiness, fun, time to unwind and precious little routines. For example every evening when Theda, Karin or Ute would prepare dinner, Jeff would come to the kitchen asking: “Some wine for the ladies?” We really loved him for this gesture and would always take the first sip of wine together with him at the kitchen. Unforgettable.
    We are so grateful to Theda and Jeff for their generosity and hospitality, which gave us the wonderful opportunity to create so many good memories and made us always feel at home in Bonnieux.
    Are deeply saddened, but also grateful to have spent so much time together with Jeff.
    The picture was taken in June 2019 during our last holidays together in Bonnieux.
    Lots of love,
    Ute and Bodo

  10. Jeff and I met in the mid 1980’s. We were both members of Booker Gliding Club and interested in owning a share in a glider. We bought a second hand single seat 15 meter flapped racing glider. This was the start of around 35 years as partners in glider ownership.
    We didn’t meet often in the early years as we were both working and only one of us could fly at a time. Jeff flew the weekends and I flew weekdays unless we shared a 9 day competition or expedition. On an expedition in Spain I found a local restaurant with a 3 course meal including wine for 6 Euros. This is when I discovered that Jeff’s taste buds were far more discerning than mine. Jeff chose the eateries and the wine after that.
    Every few years I suggested we buy a better glider. There would be a short pause then “mmmmmmmm” pause “let’s do it”. Jeff was a man of few words.
    In 1999 we owned a solo glider and bought small shares in a high performance two seater with a small turbo engine which avoided landing away from base. Now we were able to enjoy flying together, or with others and fly really long distances without the inconvenience of landing in a distant field. The interest in flying single seat gliders eventually went and we focused more on 2 seater flying eventually buying a brand new two seater turbo glider.
    Jeff had a hankering to fly Euroglide which is a 2200 kms race around check points across Europe starting in the Netherlands. All our previous competition and expedition flights had ended the day back where we started.
    In 2014 we did Euroglide. Jeff spent weeks pouring over flying maps of Europe and locating suitable gliding sites and airfields to land and hopefully get a launch the next day. This was his baby. Every day we set off over unfamiliar territory not knowing how far we would get or where we would be landing while being chased with the car, trailer and our luggage by our wonderful crew Hugh & Daphne Browning. There is no luggage hold in a glider, just a tiny space behind the rear seat big enough for some tools, a couple of waterproof jackets, toothbrush and razor. Each night a different hotel, often in a different country. What an adventure that was. Jeff wanted to do it again in 2016 and 2018 and I am so glad we did.
    Thank you Jeff for 35 wonderful years of sharing gliders and gliding with you.

  11. To steal a line from Tina Turner, Jeff was “Simply The Best”. I will always regret never having spent more time with him. he will be sorely missed. Much respect and affection for him.

    1. I first met Jeff in the mid-1980s, when he was working (if I recall correctly) at an investment bank. I gave him a pitch about my firm’s currency risk management capabilities, and he listened politely but largely without comment. Then, out of the blue, two years later, the phone rang and it was Jeff. “Hi Neil”, and he explained that he was now working for Tony Clegg at Mountleigh, an expansionary property company, and he had been impressed with my explanation of our abilities, and would like to hire us. This started a long and fruitful relationship in which we became friends. Jeff was an intelligent, thoughtful and wryly amusing character of high integrity and ability, and I am really sorry to hear of his death. He will be much missed.
      Neil Record

  12. I have known Jeff for nearly 40 years. In those days we used to play squash together and run round Regents Park together twice weekly and hang out at the “Ragdale sports club”. Jeff like me was very competetive, so although we ran with others, it always ended in a race between us two. I remember he decided to do some secret training around the Regents Park 3 mile circuit. He had to confess this to me, when I saw him with cuts and bruises. He had gone at night and not seen the chain across one of the paths ! ! !

    Jeff told me he had met this lady at Ragdale that he was very keen on, and we were soon to be introduced to the wonderful Teda.

    I took Jeff sailing in the Solent. After a while, he asked whether he could take the helm. I let him, but I soon noticed we had deviated off our intended course and were going round in circles. With Jeff’s typical curiosity, he said “I wanted to see how different the boat would respond to the wind coming from different directions”. Very sensible, and no doubt influenced by his experence of wind in his passionate hobby of glyding. Thereafter Jeff was not so interested in helming back on our intended course, as not being as exciting ! ! !

    Jeff and Teda invited my late Linda and I to stay with them in France. Jeff said if I wanted to explore the local area I could take his spare bike. Unlike his first bike which had pedals that connect into one’s shoe, his second bile had “old fashioned” pedal clips. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, I only had flip-flops type footwaer with me. But I was not deterred, they just about fitted into the pedal clips. However, as the hill to the nearbly castle “De Sadre” got steeper and steeper, I could not make progress, and had to stop. Needless to say, I could not get my feet out of the pedal clips and did a slow motion fall into the gutter. When I returned, with grazed legs, I immediatelky confessed to Jeff, saying “I had a little bit of an accident, but am OK just grazed my legs”. To which Jeff responded, “So I can see, but hows my bike?”.

    At Jeff and Teda’s drinks parties I would join with Joel for the challenge of trying to get Jeff to bring out a red wine from his coveted collection, rather than the general wine Jeff had available. Occasionally we would succeed.

    I shall greatly miss my old mate Jeff, and of course feel for Teda and all the family, to whom I offer my deepest condolences. This should not have happened to Jeff, who for his age, was very fit.

    BARRY COUSINS

  13. Jeff was a lot of things. An attentive husband, a loyal friend, a good musician, a practical handyman, a keen cyclist, a competition glider pilot, a sophisticated wine connoisseur but most importantly an loving grandfather to me.

    At the tender age of 4, Jeff was the one who introduced to my first guitar and encouraged me to take up lessons which kicked started my amateur performing arts involvement until recently.

    I hold the fondest memories of Jeff when I was young to accompany him for breakfast in one the Hampstead High Street cafes of his or my choice each weekend. I would wake up early to be able to go to breakfast with Jeff.  He would first pick up his newspaper from the local news stand where he was a regular customer.  He would buy me a chocolate bar and hide it in his newspaper and then surprise me with it once we got back to the house.  We would both have a croissant and I would have a hot chocolate and he religiously would have a coffee.  We would just talk while having our breakfast about different topics from the newspaper to things he would be doing that week or just laughing and telling jokes with each other. After our breakfast we would make sure he would pick up breakfast for Moma who was back at the house. This would be our routine each weekend morning.

    Another fond memory of Jeff was when I used to spend my summers in France. I remember when one day he took me to the Decathlon and got me my first proper bike to be able to go cycling.  I was so excited because I could be like Jeff and go on these long bike rides. When we got back to the house after purchasing the bike I would practice cycling around the garden to try and become as good as Jeff so I would be able to go on bike rides with him. I would often fall off my bike while practicing but Jeff would always be right behind me helping me to get back up and go again and again.

    After a while I perfected the art of cycling on a flat surface. So I thought this is my time to go for a bike ride with Jeff. He decided that we will cycle to Lacoste the nearest village to Bonnieux where the house is located. So helmet on, bike tires inflated and we were off. I was thinking to myself this was great as it was all downhill but Jeff would be behind me calling out to me to make sure I wouldn’t be swaying into the middle of the road and making sure I was using the brakes. So on the way down the hill, me being naive I was thinking why would Jeff come back so tired from his bike rides when you are only going downhills. Suddenly I hear Jeff’s voice from behind “CHANGE GEARS!”  I looked up and saw a never ending winding climb all the way to Lacoste. I suddenly realised this was never part of the garden training programme. So we began the climb and I was complaining from the get go. “My legs are tired”, “I’m thirsty”, “I need a break”, “Are we nearly there yet” but Jeff would keep pushing and telling me not to stop and when I started to slow down he would be right behind me pushing me up the hill. Giving me momentum to keep going and not give up. After a painful journey for probably both of us we reached the top of Lacoste where he would treat me to lunch and we would both enjoy the beautiful valley views.

    Throughout the summer we would go cycling to Lacoste and each time it would get easier and the hill would always seem slightly smaller. So what those bike rides with Jeff taught me is that even though those hills may seem never ending, if you work hard and not give up you will reach the top and there will be lunch waiting for you!

  14. I originally met and got to know Jeff through wine-pages “off-lines” (ie in person rather an online forums). He was always good company and asked insightful, intelligent and open questions about my field of work (politics). He generously invited me and my other half to visit him and Theda both in Hampstead and in Provence. I always felt a little out of my league, but I always knew that invitations were made as a friends and to get to know people he (and Theda) liked and found interesting. I liked that he never made a deal out of it. He knew he had the resources to host friends much more easily than some of his friends could do in kind but made invitations simply because he could and wanted to. He was always generous, happily opening some of his best and more interesting bottles to share with his fellow wine-lovers. He and Theda made me feel welcome and at ease. Unbeknownst to many, Jeff kept track of his wines, writing notes essentially for himself that directly got to the soul of a wine (good or bad) and often with humour. He certainly wouldn’t hesitate to call out the grander wines that should impress but failed or to truly enjoy an inexpensive but interesting and well-made wine. All 922 notes can be found on the open website cellartracker at https://www.cellartracker.com/list.asp?Table=Notes&iUserOverride=1105. He may have bought wines as a financial guru but he enjoyed them as an artist. Here is a good example of a tasting note:

    “1999 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape:
    From a 6 pack bought at auction. I have never had a bad Clos des Papes, but this is the first bottle and it’s a sad excuse. Thin and weak and showing overt alcohol because of the hole where the fruit should be. If this was a geriatric Bourgogne Rouge I might give it some respect for being almost alive but it’s not, it’s a wine that should be in its prime but is lacking everything that makes a Clos des Papes enjoyable. This is like when your dog vomits over your favourite pudding. This is like when Elvis Presley left Sun Records. This is like when your football team falls to pieces. (I know of what I speak.)”

    Jeff and I shared two other keen interests: road cycling and flying light aircraft. Cycling with Jeff in the Luberon hills was exhausting. Jeff rightly really enjoyed riding in the beautiful area, playing an excellent host and was hard to catch up with despite giving away 20 years to me. He even managed to cycle from the Luberon to the top of Ventoux and back home again (this is impressive for any age). Taking me gliding in 2018 down at Lasham, he was a patient but encouraging tutor, forgiving of my terrible powered aircraft pilot ways, especially my under-use of the rudder. His enthusiasm and joy at flying were well balanced by a rightly mature and methodical approach to the technical aspects that could otherwise put us at considerable risk.

    Finally I always liked how Jeff and Theda were with one another, Jeff more recently showing great love and patience while Theda’s gentle but affectionate chiding was met with humour and an affirmative response. The mutual respect was rock solid. These are a model and were the qualities that many couple so long together no longer have.

    Image of Jeff at a wine-pages offline, courtesy of Ian H.

    1. Jeff was a true CEO, had a lot of clarity on things. He was a great observer and was there, always open for a glass of wine, advice or a slap of truth. The most memorable special time for me was when we sat last year in the Hampstead cafe and had a deep discussion about business, family and life. We connected then on a deeper level. We will miss him dearly. Love Hans

  15. Dearest Jeff,

    The void you are leaving behind so abruptly and so early will be immeasurable. You have been such an enrichment in our family’s life that we really took it for granted you will be here for every single one of us for ever.

    When Moma first introduced you in the late 80’s, you came across as a very reserved, rather quiet but polite and sophisticated gentleman. However as the years went by, and having to deal with our diverse and mixed European family you flourished and became more inclusive and diverse than most of us without losing your original character signature. I will never forget the joyful Christmasses whilst young Andreas and Antonia were treated to the best Santa appearances you provided for them and even our beloved dog, Rocky!. I will never forget those family dinners that you would always try to sneekingly refill my glass with your delicious wine or those beautiful breakfast tables in your Provencal home with your favourite French bakery treats but most of all I won’t forget that you were always there for us for every single challenge offering sound advice, guidance and support. Your genuine kindness, generosity and love will be deeply missed.

    Rest in Peace xxx

    1. Dearest Jeff

      We are so glad to have taken time to come and see you and Teda last November and again for Christmas. We and our children will miss you very much – the memorable Santa appearances, the considerate advices to me and Hans re our businesses, the talks on how to better the world and the wines. We will carry these precious memories in our hearts for ever. Rest in peace. Love Adriana van der Goes-Juric and family

  16. I met Jeff several times while my children were growing up and when we would visit Eva and Julian at their house in Claygate or Theda and Jeff’s house in Hampstead. I perhaps saw Jeff once or twice a year for family and birthday occasions. We exchanged a few conversations but he didn’t need to say much for anyone to see that he was a lovely, warm and kind man. He was happy being around the family, the grandchildren and friends. He always took an interest in the visitors to Eva and Julian’s over the years (and there were many!). I feel very sad not to have seen him for a long time and now won’t get a chance to have a proper chat with him. He was clearly much loved. Amanda (sons, Kiran and Rohan).

  17. I’m sad to say that my dear friend and unofficial uncle Jeff Warren tragically and suddenly passed away last night.

    When I was just 8 Jeff took me to my first ever Arsenal game against Bolton. Although we didn’t win that day I was hooked, and anyone who knows me will know that I have been ever since.

    It was fitting that the day after Jeff passed we played Leeds United in the FA Cup third round, almost 8 years to the day after we last did. Most people will remember that night fondly as the return of Thierry Henry. I’ll always remember it fondly for being the first of many truly great memories Jeff and I shared together. I’m devastated that we won’t be able to share any more.

    It might sound over the top to say, but the reason I do what I do today is because of him.
    I will never forget everything you did for me Jeff. I owe you so much. Rest in peace Genius

  18. Although I had known Jeff a little before 2003, I didn’t really know him. He was more of a distant and slightly scary “adult” that I met occasionally, who was Theda’s partner and grandfather of Andreas (who was in my daughter’s year at primary school), and who seemed to have an air of responsible adult about him that was way beyond anything I was used to around then. So, in these days, whenever I was in his company I was a little wary, and would try to be extra sensible and “grownup”. Those of you who know me will be aware that this doesn’t come easy.

    So it was such a great surprise when I got to know another Jeff, the real Jeff. It was in the autumn of 2003, and we were staying in Jeff and Theda’s lovely house in Provence. We had been invited, with another family, for the school half term holiday. Jeff was arriving a few days after us, but advance instructions had been left as to which fridge full of wine was available to us lot, and which one was off limits.

    I was doing quite a lot of the cooking, and the evening Jeff arrived, I was busy preparing magret de canard with blackcurrant sauce. He came into the kitchen and began chatting. I kept the conversation on familiar ground and discussed what l was cooking. I then took a sip of my beer, at which point Jeff asked if I would like to try a glass of one of the local wines instead. Not wanting to sound like a heathen – in those days I was more of a beer guy and usually only drank wine with food – I said yes please.

    Jeff then strode over to the forbidden fridge (I know, weird, right? Red wines should be kept in the fridge? But that’s another lesson) and took out a bottle of Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape, opened it ceremoniously, and poured what seemed like a very conservative measure into an oversized goblet, then handed me the glass. I took a mouthful, and carried on stirring.

    This was not the reaction Mr Warren was expecting…“So what do you think? It’s a 1986.”

    I knew something was expected of me. “Very nice” I said, in my most sophisticated accent,
    hoping to move the conversation on to something else. No chance. I wasn’t going to be let off the hook that easily.

    “So what do you taste? How’s the length?”

    I was up against the wall now – nowhere to run – “Umm, really nice, quite short.” (Well, there wasn’t enough in my glass in the first place to be long…)

    Wrong answer. My thin veneer of sophistication had been shattered. Now there were only one or two things Jeff could have done at this point..

    Call me a Philistine and ask me to leave his home and never darken his door again (which wasn’t very likely and I didn’t expect it)

    Or mutter something, make polite excuses and go and join the others and leave me to wallow in my ignorance and shame (which was far more likely and I did expect it).

    But there was a third possibility which I hadn’t even considered. Jeff decided to embark on the formidable task of teaching me about wine.

    He went back to the forbidden fridge and took out a further two bottles, another Rhone (a Hermitage) and a Bordeaux (I can’t recall which one).

    We spoke about bouquet, legs, tannins, length, colour. By the time the holiday was over, I was an expert. Jeff had made me into the wine snob I am today! My education in wine continued in London where, over the years, he poured me some of the best wines I have ever had, and he took such great pleasure in my transformation into the wine lover l now am.

    One of the most memorable bottles we shared was on his 60th birthday when, with the grandest of flourishes, he produced a 1948 Chateau Margaux (my other half is questioning my memory here but it was definitely one of the greats) and brought it to the table. When it was opened, the murky beige liquid which emerged smelled and tasted like paint stripper, but we persevered to the last dregs striving for any possible vestige of the exceptional wine it had once been.

    Jeff, it has been an honour and a privilege to have been counted amongst your friends.

  19. I’ve known Jeff since university in Manchester, a long time ago. We shared a student house in Moss Side, opposite a coal merchants – this glamorous man with a flat in Chalk Farm and a battered sports car. As long term friends do we ducked in and out of each others lives after that – Leonard Cohen concerts, Arsenal matches, university reunions, and his and Theda’s summer parties were always a delight. I miss him so much.

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