Neville Blech

Neville Blech

Qualified as a chartered accountant in 1959 and became passionate about food and wine whilst working in Italy in the early sixties.

There he encountered not only his future wife, Sonia, but also 2 litre bottles of “Valpollicella” made in a cantina in the back streets of Milan. He soon began to appreciate better quality wines, particularly French, and returning to London began building up his knowledge of wine with the help of Hugh Johnson. Wine and food soirées at the Blech’s South Kensington home became a regular feature and the purchase of a run-down pub in Wales as a second home in 1971 prompted them to consider commercialising Sonia’s abilities as an accomplished amateur cook. “Sonia, darling – you can cook a bit – let’s open a restaurant”. The pub was converted into a smart restaurant avec chambres, and opened in 1974, and in 1976, Sonia became the first woman chef in the UK to obtain a Michelin star.

Returning to London to open the Mijanou restaurant in 1980, which became one of the fashionable restaurants of the decade, the innovative wine list resulted in many awards, and soon he was being asked to write a wine column for a magazine called “Restaurant Business” (now defunct – but not his fault!) and to help other restaurateurs with the composition of their wine lists, a function he still carries out today. The consultancy developed and in 1989, started his own wine importing company, The Wine Treasury, which specialises in wines from California, being one of the first in the UK to realise the quality potential of Californian wines, some of which are now truly world class players.

The tail began to wag the dog, so in 1996 the restaurant was sold to concentrate on the wine business and the soirées re-appeared in a much more professional fashion with regular visiting wine producers as special guests. He continued to write occasional articles for various wine publications and broadcasted on wine for Jazz FM in London (also now defunct but not his fault either!) in order to make the distinction between Brubeck and Brunello. He has been a member of the Grand Jury Européen wine tasting panel and served on tasting panels for Decanter, Wine Magazine and other leading wine publications.

In 2002 he sold The Wine Treasury to concentrate on wine writing and wine consultancy and his involvement with Wine behind the label. He is currently a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and FIJEV (Fédération Internationale des Journalistes et Écrivans du Vin.)

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