Peter Sichel

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Peter Max F. Sichel (born September 12, 1922[1]) is a German American wine merchant, who created the success of the Blue Nun wine brand, for a while the largest international wine brand in the world.

He was born in Mainz in 1922, where his grandfather's family wine business, H. Sichel Söhne had been established.[2] He was educated in Germany and at Stowe School[3] in England. The firm had offices in London and Bordeaux, and at the start of World War II, while he was apprenticed to the Bordeaux firm, he was interned as he was Jewish. He escaped to the USA via Spain and worked as a US Foreign Service Officer, running agents in Germany for which he was given the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.[4]

He continued to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in Berlin, Washington and Hong Kong until 1960, when he left, saying "I left because the CIA did things I didn’t like, such as send people into the Ukraine to work in fabricated resistance groups. They were potentially being sent to their deaths. I made a huge fuss." He took over the family wine import business in New York, which he dissolved, instead dealing with Schieffelin, then a large drinks company. At this time wine was taking off as a drink in America, overtaking fortified wine, and he advertised Blue Nun as a wine you can drink "right through the meal", using widespread advertising. At its peak in the 1980s, annual sales in the US reached 1.25 million cases.[5]

Peter has appeared often on television in Germany as a witness to the immediate post-war years in Berlin[6] when he was head of the CIA in Berlin, and wrote several books on German wine and a guide to wine. He became chairman of the German parent company in 1984. By the 1990s, the Sichel company was sold to another German company, Langguth, and Peter had arranged sale of part of the Schieffelin company to LVMH. He was president of the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 1991. Until 2006 he owned the Bordeaux Château Fourcas-Hosten in Listrac, which he sold to Hermès.[7]

On the Beastie Boys 1992 album Check Your Head there is a musical interlude called The Blue Nun in which a narrator describes a party held in Peter Sichel's comfortable study in his New York townhouse in which the guests compliment the wine. This includes samples from Peter's audio recording "On Wine: How to Select and Serve".

Publications[edit]

  • Peter M.F. Sichel and Judy Ley, Which Wine: The Wine Drinker's Buying Guide, 1975, ISBN 0-06-013867-X
  • Peter M.F. Sichel, The Wines of Germany: Completely Revised Edition of Frank Schoonmaker's Classic, 1980, ISBN 0-8038-8100-2
  • Peter Sichel, On Wine: How to Select and Serve: Vol 1, audio recording, Columbia Special Products (CSP 151).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sichel, Peter M F. "United States Public Records Index". Family Search. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Peter Sichel". Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "NEWS FROM THE AMERICAN FRIENDS OF STOWE". Stowemail (Stowe School) 5 (4). 22 November 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Jancis Robinson (10 January 2009). "The man with wine in his veins". Financial Times. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  5. ^ Jancis Robinson, ed. (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-860990-2. 
  6. ^ Robinson, Jancis. "New York's Mr Fixit". JancisRobinson.com. Retrieved 26 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Fourcas Hosten sold". Decanter. 25 September 2006.