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Independent wine merchant Richard Tanner dies

Published:  09 January, 2014

Independent wine merchant Richard Tanner, credited with building the family firm into one of the UK's most prominent retailers, died on New Year's day aged 75.

Independent wine merchant Richard Tanner, died on New Year's Day 2014, aged 75. Richard TannerIndependent wine merchant Richard Tanner, died on New Year’s Day 2014, aged 75.

Tanner, who had been suffering from Parkinsons, started in the wine trade in 1956 directly from school, when he recalled borrowing an old van from his father and picking grapes at Bourg and Château Palmer. "Madame Bollinger gave us a super lunch at Ay and helped to push-start the van afterwards," he remembered.

He saw active military service in Malaya with the Gurkhas between 1958 and 1959.

Tanner joined the family firm in 1959, becoming director in charge of wine, shipping, bottling and sales the following year. He later became managing director and chairman of Tanners, and director of Merchant Vintners buying consortium.

His skills as a wine buyer were widely recognised. Jane MacQuitty in The Times described him as "one of the best wine buyers in Britain", and he was one of the vanguard of merchants recognised in the inaugural 1981 Which? Wine guide.

He launched the first of Tanners house clarets in 1973, which was sourced from the Sichel family who had been supplying the firm since the 1890s.  

In the 1970s, he pioneered national mail order with many newly-discovered wines from the Rhône, Loire, Southern France and Spain, as well as domaine-bottled Burgundies.

Tanner was also a keen countryman and all-round naturalist,  as well as being master of foxhounds and High Sheriff of Shropshire in 2006.

He is survived by his wife Marion, daughter Lucy and son James who has been managing director of Tanners Wines since 2006, and joint managing director since 1994.