September sees the launch of two new books from Hugh Johnson, one of the world’s leading authorities on wine, On Wine and the 40th edition of the Pocket Wine Book, the world’s best-selling book on wine. Here he tells The Buyer what wines he would take with him on a desert island, what his favourite restaurant is and who he still looks up to in the wine world.
Hugh Johnson talks to The Buyer exclusively on the eve of the publication of his two new books.
How has wine writing changed since you started writing about wine?
It has developed from a hobby to an industry, and grown more and more technical (and opinionated). Too technical, in my view.
What are you views on digital platforms for wine writing? Do you find it easy to embrace digital platforms – social media, blogs etc?
I don’t see them much. I tweet a little for fun, but that’s it.
Do you use digital wine apps and if so which ones?
Who have you most admired as a wine writer throughout your career and now?
Many, but currently Jancis Robinson.
Who have been your mentors?
Originally André Simon, also Elizabeth David, but I admire many writers
Who do you look up to in the wine world? (people who have made a significant contribution and why?)
A very long list. Too long. I’ll mention Torres, though, and Antinori; real game-changers. And Paul Draper, for not changing.
What are your views about the wine market in general – are you happy with the way it is going?
The market is not my business, but fashions can be fun – or not.
Who has consistently been the best wine retailer over your career?
The Wine Society.
If you had to pick a favourite restaurant – just one – what would it be and why?
Garnier in Earl’s Court Road for the great French bourgeois tradition of sensible, savoury, affordable food, and ditto wine (with lots of half-bottles.)
You’re stranded on a desert island and you can only take six bottles with you. Which red, white, rosé, sparkling, fortified & spirit would you take with you?
Musigny from Mugnier
Scharzhofberger Kabinett from Egon Muller
Royal Tokaji Aszu Mezes Maly
Which wine-making countries/ regions do you think are particularly interesting for wine consumers right now?
Interesting? Almost all of Europe.
September 13 sees Octopus Publishing release two books by Hugh Johnson.
Hugh Johnson on Wine: Good Bits from 55 Years of Scribbling is a selection that chronicles Hugh’s personal and nostalgic take on developments that have revolutionised the wine industry for over 50 years. It is a perfect bedside book or one that is perfect for dipping in and dipping out of, detailing as it does a wide range of fascinating, illuminating and amusing subjects.
The same date also sees the release of the 40th edition Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, the world’s bestselling wine book, with over 12 million copies sold. The book has been completely revised and updated for 2017 with a colour supplement exploring 40 stories from cities with great vineyards close by to ‘new’ grapes. There is extensive information on more than 6,000 wines and growers, with fully revised regional reviews and with four levels of vintage information detailing which wines to drink now and which to cellar.