For Tim Ladd


I’m writing this Cork Talk on the night before I’m taking a flight to Southampton to join a Fred Olsen cruise, where I’ll be working as a Wine Speaker. By the time it’s published the cruise will be but a pleasant memory, however I can tell you now what my first drink onboard will be – a Harvey’s Sherry, for sure!

In a recent Cork Talk, entitled, ‘The Ladies Who Fizz’, I referred to my old friend Tim Ladd, saying that this once stalwart, ex-President and perennial committee member of the Cost Blanca Wine Society had regrettably returned to the UK in poor health.

Regret is an appropriate word – for I’m suffering from it now. Unfortunately, Tim and I had rather lost touch. My busy life, both wine wise and domestically, and Tim’s happy retirement just didn’t dovetail. I regret very much that I let this slip, for I heard, following the publication of the above article, that Tim had passed away some time ago.

I can’t actually recall when I first met Tim, but it must have been quite soon after my move from Torrevieja to Moraira, so it’s likely to have been close to start of the new millennium. Neither can I remember where it was that I met him, but it’s an educated guess that it was in fact at said Costa Blanca Wine Society.

We hit it off straight away, despite our very different backgrounds – from the south of England, with a fairly far back accent, Tim reminded me of a public schoolboy, always up for a prank. My northern accent – a bit Lancastrian, with a slight Liverpudlian lilt was rather removed from that of the boys of The Remove.

That didn’t make any difference though – we made each other laugh, his the contagious naughty sort, as if listening to a jape about a prefect, or better still, a Marster, related after Prep in the Boys’ Toilets; mine more, well northern, the lads in the pub sort of laugh. Plus, we had something else in common – wine, of course!

Tim had worked for Harvey’s of Bristol – you’ll know Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry, I’m sure. He’d worked in Portugal (they make Port as well) and in Jerez and was a frequent visitor too. His knowledge of both Port and Sherry was exceptional, and he was full of stories about how it had been, working for such a time honoured and well respected company.

Naturally, I suppose, whilst working in the sector, Tim had also developed a great interest in unfortified wine, and a fine palate too. Such a gentleman, for that’s exactly what Tim was, a real gentleman, was tailor-made for the Costa Blanca Wine Society. Tim was able to bring with him his management and people skills, as well as his wine knowledge and, importantly his sense of fun. There’d be no stuffiness where Tim was involved!

I don’t know how long the Society had been going when Tim joined. Was he one of the founder members – I’m not sure? I do know, however, that he befriended (well, that’s obvious, Tim befriended everybody, he was that type of guy) the founder of the Costa Blanca Wine Society, Anton Massel. Anton was a big noise in the wine world.

A wine maker who had been contracted to make wine in the UK, long before it became as fashionable as it is nowadays and an author of a number of wine books, Anton had also started what is now the oldest international wine competition on the world, the International Wine & Spirits Competition ( I wasn’t aware of this until I walked into the offices of the IWSC eight years or so ago, about to join the judging panel for the first time, and saw Anton’s photo on the wall! I don’t mind admitting that my knowing Anton and the fact that we’d been in business together added a certain kudos to my being there!

Well, there were three of us in the business – and you’ve guessed, of course, that Tim Ladd was the other member of the triumvirate that ran the Costa Wine Society. It was a good idea – a wine club, with wines chosen by the three of us, pooling our knowledge and tasting skills to make crucial decisions. Members of the club received a case of six wines a month, with details of their provenance, grape varieties, method by which they were made, the history and philosophy of the bodegas etc etc.

The only problem was that there weren’t enough clients – we didn’t lose money, but we didn’t make any either! We decided the stop trading after a few years, but we’d all enjoyed it. I can remember the tasting sessions we used to hold, just the three of us, in secret, well fairly secret – in a quiet lounge at Javea Golf Course, very close to where Tim lived. Great fun – and of course Tim was right in the thick of it, lapping it up – literally!

So, sadly Tim is no longer with us, but I know that he is fondly remembered by everybody who came across him, particularly the members of the Costa Blanca Wine Society who’ll remember his tireless work on their behalf, even after he became ill, and his ever present fun and happy way.  Twitter  @colinonwine

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