Leading wine merchant Richard Tanner dies

08 January, 2014

Richard Tanner, one of Britain’s leading wine merchants, has died following a battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Tanner was managing director at Tanners Wine merchants, which had five stores spread across Shropshire, Herefordshire and north Wales.

He was born on November 30 in Shrewsbury and educated at Windlesham House School, West Sussex and Shrewsbury School.

He went directly into the wine trade after leaving school in 1956, working in London and France.

He once recalled: “I borrowed an old van from my father and we picked grapes at Bourg and at Château Palmer. Madame Bollinger gave us a super lunch at Ay and helped to push-start the van afterwards.”

He was then commissioned into the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Goorkhas on National Service and in Singapore and Malaya between 1958 and 1959.

He became a lifelong supporter of Gurkha causes.

He joined Tanners Wine Merchants in 1959 as director, in charge of wine, shipping, bottling and sales.

Writing in The Times, Jane MacQuitty once described him as “one of the best wine buyers in Britain”. 

He went on to become managing director and chairman of Tanners – which has branches in Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, Welshpool, Hereford and Llandudno – and director of the Merchant Vintners buying consortium.

When he launched Tanners Claret in 1973 it marked the first time a house claret had been sold in Britain. It was sourced from the Sichel family, which had supplied Tanners since the 1890s.

He also pioneered wines from the Rhône, Loire, Southern France and Spain, as well as domaine-bottled Burgundies.

Tanner was a keen countryman and all-round naturalist, a Master of Foxhounds who was said to only open businesses where there was something he could fish or shoot nearby.

Tanner is survived by widow Marion, daughter Lucy and son James, who has been joint managing director of Tanners since 1994. 

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