Buying Director Private Cellar
After sampling her father’s homemade offerings in her wine-formative years, Nicola discovered whilst living in Italy that there was significantly better stuff out there. An attempt to write her dissertation for her MA on ‘wine and food in classic Italian literature’ fell somewhat flat and, not surprisingly, it was turned down for lacking sufficient academic rigour. Nevertheless, her interest had been piqued and she continued her research to discover that the wines she tasted in Northern Italy bore no resemblance to those sold under the same guise in the UK. The somewhat frivolously proposed dissertation soon led to more serious study and it wasn’t long before a career in the wine trade seemed inevitable.
An initial stint as a trainee manager at Majestic gave Nicola a crash course in retail sales as well as vital grounding in wine knowledge, followed by some ten years at City merchant and Royal Warrant Holder Corney & Barrow. Having been a founder of the Broking team – the first of the traditional merchants to break the mould – her tasting ability was quickly recognised and she was soon promoted to the role of Buying Director for the group. The opportunities and experiences in this role were phenomenal, with regular tastings and visits to properties such as Pétrus, Le Tertre Roteboeuf, Domaine de la Romanée Conti and Domaine Leflaive, to name but a few. Persuaded that the notoriously tough Master of Wine exams should come next, (four theory papers, three blind tasting papers and a dissertation), and with some intense study and tasting Nicola became a fully-fledged MW in 1996, one of just over 200 Masters of Wine worldwide at the time. In 1998 she became firstly an examiner for the Viticulture and Vinification section of the exam, latterly being made Chair of the same paper, setting the questions and marking papers for a decade.
In 2005, Nicola joined forces with former Corney & Barrow colleagues Andrew Gordon and Laura Taylor to establish Private Cellar in order to continue to unearth great wines from across the globe. Fluent in French and Italian, she travels extensively in her role as Buying Director to visit suppliers and is as comfortable in the New World as the Old World.
During her career, Nicola has acted widely as a consultant, advising and training as required, with some of London’s famous Livery Companies and a Grande Marque Champagne amongst her regular clients and, more recently, she has become a member of the advisory team to the British Government Hospitality Department. An accomplished teacher, public speaker and presenter, Nicola is often commissioned to host wine tastings and events and she also conducts wine tours to some of the top wine producing regions, particularly Bordeaux and Burgundy, visiting the regions’ most prestigious producers. Inevitably her original Italian epiphany left its mark, with Nicola a determined Italophile, particularly for the country’s food and wines. (www.privatecellar.co.uk)