Friday, November 14, 2014

Vale Doug Crittenden 1923-2014

My friendship with Doug Crittenden began in the late 1960s when, on an annual foray to the Melbourne Cup (with friends from Sydney), we visited his Toorak grocery and wine store to buy wines that were simply not available in Sydney. One thing led to another, and he was one of the first members of the Single Bottle Club initiated by Len Evans in 1977.

Although I may not have the details exactly right, I remember Doug being apprehended by water police for not wearing a life jacket while on his sail board. When they asked him for his date of birth he said ‘’23’, to which the response was ‘Smartarse. I don’t want your age, I simply want to know when you were born.’ This incident occurred in the 1980s when Doug was in his 60s.

He had an encylopedic knowledge of the great wines of the world, but was also one of the most enterprising retailers in Australia, persuading Penfolds to sell him (with his labels) experimental vintages of what became Bin 389. More importantly still, he had a great sense of humour and joie de vivre, never taking himself or wine too seriously. His zest for life lasted for many decades, and I feel a keen sense of personal loss.

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