I was born the eldest of four sons on 12th February 1971, an under-rated vintage, and enjoyed an uneventful but enjoyable childhood in sunny, coastal Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, a place of mudflats, cockle sheds, tacky nightclubs and trenchant Conservatism.
Studies followed :
Westcliff High School for Boys
In 1989 I left for Warwick University and spent two-years living in Coventry, a town devastated by new buildings after the Second World War. Inebriated days were whiled away drinking ruby port and Blue Bols, sometimes on the same evening and despite failing my first year, graduated with a useless 2:1 degree in Management Science bereft of any career plan.
1994 I pretended to work for Lloyds for a couple of years before packing my suitcase for Tokyo in 1994 to work as an English teacher and immerse myself in another culture, since when Japan has been almost a second home. I returned after a fairly eventful year and in 1996, whilst on probation for what can only be described as "the most boring insurance job in the world", an opportunity arose within a Japanese export company where I would be responsible for the wine.
1995 Go back to England
1996 Lo and behold I inadvertently found myself procuring an inordinate quantity of unheard of wines such as “Latour” and “Petrus” without the foggiest what the hell I was doing. So I enrolled myself for WSET certificate at Battersea College and those first dozen tutorials lit the touch paper that ignited my passion for wine. My epiphany arrived with a glass of Chateau Montrose 1982: my eyes and olfactory senses were opened and I fell in love with fermented grape juice. Returning to the office still savouring that Saint Estèphe, I wrote a perfunctory tasting note as a memento of the occasion, unwittingly germinating the seed of my career.
Il devient responsable du vin dans une société d'exportation japonaise et se retrouve avec une quantité démesurée de vins tels que du "Latour" et du "Petrus". Souhaitant approfondir ses connaissances sur le vin, iI s’est inscrit au Battersea College pour obtenir le certificat WSET. Neal se passionna pour le vin. Mais il convient de rappeler que son amour du vin s’est définitivement développé en dégustant un verre de Montrose 1982. En rentrant au bureau, il a écrit quelques notes sur ce nectar et c’est ainsi que débuta sa carrière dans le vin.
2000 Four years later I passed my WSET Diploma, had traveled regularly to European wine regions and visited nearly all the major chateaux in Bordeaux several times; all the time recording my notes for no apparent reason except to assuage my archivist nature.
2003 (juin) Bored one rainy Monday afternoon, I began writing an independent website, wine-journal.com in June 2003 that somehow ended up with over 100,000 readers and three years later, my penmanship was requested by the most influential wine critic in the world, Robert Parker.
2006 I presently live in Guildford, Surrey with my wife Tomoko, who herself is a very gifted taster and my daughters Lily, vintage 2005 whose favourite wine is Château Pétrus 2000 and Daisy, vintage 2007, who is currently teetotal.
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