To say that Hugh Johnson, the iconic British wine writer, can be outspoken is an understatement. When it comes to shelling out opinions on all things wine, he is as unfiltered at a Kermit Lynch Bandol.
Dave McIntyre, who writes a wine column for the Washington Post, recently caught up with Mr. Johnson in New York while the latter was promoting the latest edition of the World Atlas of Wine, co-authored with Jancis Robinson. Johnson let loose on a wide range of subjects, including high alcohol, heavily extracted wines; the importance of geography, and exploring new wines. Here are a few extracts:
- Choosing wine: “Some of the richest people I know are some of the meanest. I always know when somebody has mega-bucks because he starts telling me how little he pays for his wine. How vulgar!”
- Changing wine styles: “And for years I’ve been saying for God’s sake I don’t want oak, I want to taste the wine, not the barrel. And I want wine which doesn’t clobber me on the first glass – I hate over-strong wine…Balance is everything.”
- Are tastes changing now?: “The classic Napa Cabs of olden days didn’t have to be made to taste delicious to the first taster, because there weren’t all these competitive tastings. There wasn’t a Robert Parker sniffing and writing down his scores in a big hurry. Nobody was in a big hurry.”
- Favorite wines: “One of the developments that’s been quietly going on almost unremarked is the improvement in the quality of Burgundy in general, and red Burgundy in particular. And we now realize how poor it was for decades.”
Here’s the complete interview for your reading pleasure.