After having served for three years as the US ambassador in Paris, Craig Stapleton leaves behind him, in our country, many friends. Visiting every corner of our provinces, meeting people on all occasions, he was passionate about fine dining and good wine. A few days ago, our former president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing presented him with the cross of Commander of the Legion of Honour, in the presence of the new ambassador, Charles Riskin and of numerous French officials. It was for VGE (as we call him for short), an occasion to once again showcase his astonishing oratorical and educational talent and to put it at the service of a brilliant historical epic of the Franco-American History. Wine people that Craig had met during his three years in office came in numbers to the ceremony: from Bordeaux came the dashing 90-year-old Thierry Manoncourt with his wife Marie-France, Corinne Mentzelopoulos, the young Philippe de Rothschild... from the Rhône Marcel Guigal, the young Jean-Louis Chave, and the charming Laurence Féraud from Domaine du Pegau. Others I’m sure, whom I forgot…
Last year, the “Harry S. Truman”, the largest aircraft carrier in the world, was cruising the Mediterranean sea on her way to Norfolk. Craig Stapleton invited me to share a day of the 5700 crew members: landing in, catapulting out…I owe him one of the great experiences of my life… and some thrilling moments.
In Paris and in the French provinces, he was an efficient and very appreciated diplomat during a period of somewhat tricky relations between France and the United States.
He knew how to break down the barriers and made friends with many. Now back in his country, I have no doubt he will be, at a time when our American market is staggering a little, a convincing ambassador and a faraway friend for all the wines of France.