Adam Bancroft MW
Became an MW 1985, died 1999
Tribute by Jasper Morris MW
I wanted to write an appreciation of Adam Bancroft as he was one of the MWs who I admired most of all and I am aware that many people in the Institute hardly knew him. He was a quiet, modest, undemonstrative, private man with a great many talents. He did not trumpet his name about, yet was an extremely successful wine merchant. It was ironic to see in the same issue of Harper’s the notice of Adam’s death on one page and on the next the mention of the Plimpsoll Report detailing the ten most successful wine merchants according to their audited accounts, with Adam Bancroft Associates at the head of the list.
I first met him when he was working in a retail shop, long since defunct, in the Kings Road in 1981. He passed the MW exam in 1985, wining the Tim Derouet prize for the best overall papers which was no surprise to those who knew his intellectual capabilities. After a few false starts with Domaine Direct, he found the proper backing necessary to set up Adam Bancroft Associates in 1988. He made a point of wherever possible sourcing producers who were not already working in the UK, thus making a real contribution to the range, quality and diversity available to consumers, rather than just grabbing a share of an existing market.
His wines were not in every restaurant and certainly not widely seen on the High Street. But what impressed me more than anything was the intense loyalty of those who bought regularly from him – he was without doubt their favourite wine merchant and we were never likely to steal his clients. Not surprising, really, given the quality of what he bought. Mostly, he worked with French wines, including one or two excellent Burgundy agencies, though in recent years the company developed an impressive Italian portfolio. His forays into Australian and New Zealand wines (eg Devil’s Lair) were extremely lucrative.
Adam Bancroft Agencies is now under new ownership but with the same capable team, as loyal to Adam as were his customers. They carry on what he created and will keep his name in front of us. He leaves behind his widow Amanda and two delightful children.