IN EPISODE 22, IN THIS EPISODE, WE CATCH UP WITH WINE LEGEND, HUGH JOHNSON. HUGH HAS BEEN ONE OF THE WINE WORLD’S MOST READ AND INFLUENTIAL AUTHORS OVER A 60-YEAR CAREER. HE HAS INSPIRED SO MANY TO PURSUE FURTHER WINE EDUCATION AND HELPED TRANSFORM HOW WE THINK ABOUT WINE WRITING. HIS STORY IS COMPLEX, THRILLING, AND INSPIRING MUCH LIKE MANY OF THE FINEST WINES OF THE WORLD.
THE STORY OF WINE: FROM NOAH TO NOW
The Story of Wine is his most enthralling and enduring work, winner of every wine award in the UK and USA. It tells with wit, scholarship and humour how wine became the global phenomenon it is today, varying from mass-produced plonk to rare bottles fetching many thousands. It ranges from Noah to Napa, Pompeii to Prohibition to Pomerol, gripping, anecdotal, personal, controversial and fun. This new edition includes Hugh’s view on the changes wine has seen in the past 30 years.
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‘Who better to supply us with our first comprehensive historical survey than the wine writer with the magic pen, Hugh Johnson?’
~Jancis Robinson MW
Hugh Johnson: [00:00:39] I was a bit precocious as, because I was 27 when I wrote my first book, which is titled just why, I mean, why the four letter word, which was not used 66.
So I suppose 27 minutes per day.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:00:57] Valley wine Academy. This is the stories behind [00:01:00] wine, a podcast dedicated to the stories, people, places in history that influenced the world of wine. In this episode, we catch up with wine legend, Hugh Johnson. Hugh has been one of the wine world’s most read and influential authors over a 60 year career.
He has inspired so many to pursue further wine education and help transform how we think about wine writing. His story is complex and thrilling and inspiring much like many of the finest wines of the world. This is his story.
Hugh Johnson: [00:01:36] Huge Johnson and I I’m a writer. Uh, wine have been a writer about lives for 16 years.
It always amazes me. I’ve written a number of books contributing, included the world. There’s a blind now and it’s hates position. My friend James says rubbish pocket wine books, 44 additions. And various [00:02:00] more personal books and particularly a book called the story of wine, which is my favorite, really, because I think to understand why to do need to know something about it.
So that’s me, I’m here
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:02:12] Johnson. I look forward to discussing the reprint of story of wine as well with you here a little bit later in the interview, but I want to get started and I wanted to ask you, what was your first introduction? To wind. When did it become part of your life? Well, wine
Hugh Johnson: [00:02:29] was always a whole part of my life because of it.
We drank it in my family. My father was a lawyer and it was part of his culture. Really not, no great deep interest, just regular drinking. Then when I went to university at Cambridge, kind of on the larger pot and various ways, I began to see that there was a serious side to it. Actually it tasted some.
Wonderful burger for the first time. And a friend showed it to me and they said, don’t you think it’s [00:03:00] extraordinary? How different these two lines off considering they come from the same village, two fields apart, um, actually hang out and it really is interesting and it fit me out, sent me off on a path for them still pushed to reach 60 years later.
So there’s never any doubt in my mind that explaining why to people helping them enjoy it is something I was doing. How did
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:03:25] you transition from that curiosity at Cambridge into starting your career and writing about wine? What was the first opportunity that presented itself for you to write about wine?
Hugh Johnson: [00:03:36] My subject is English. I’ve always. Wanted to be a writer company or anything else really, but I did need to earn a living and I was better, very lucky to get a job as a copywriter on a magazine on Vogue magazine, straight out of college. Very lucky indeed. So I was writing stuff about [00:04:00] galleries, about travel, about, about fashion.
Then I said to the editor, do you think readers would like an article about wine? She said, we’re going to try it. That was the Christmas edition London in 1968. And here we are six years later.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:04:19] What was the article about?
Hugh Johnson: [00:04:21] Oh, you’ll never be able to guess. The Christmas edition, what to drink with Turkey,
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:04:28] a subject that has been repeated ever since.
Hugh Johnson: [00:04:31] It’s being revisited from time.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:04:36] Tell me, I’m interested to know, and I’m sure our listeners are as well. What did wine journalism look like back then? Was there wine journalism? Can you give us a little bit of insight?
Hugh Johnson: [00:04:45] Yes. There was one in journalism in the UK and in the us very limited, very few people that was Robert Bowser.
And the key figure in my mind was Frank Studebaker. [00:05:00] Who was imported wine had wrote the absolute to me the first really good Claire, one books about wines of Germany. And he wrote mood of wines and spirits in about 1966. I suppose I was happy enough or lucky enough to meet him. I’d just written my own book, which is called wine.
And he asked me to edit. I’m trying to compete for the London edition, which I did. And I learned a huge amount and had great pleasure with it. He was a great guy. Yeah. He was the man. Frank was the man who really introduced the Rasul labeling by suggesting to Helma them that they should put, they should feature Cabernet.
And now on their labels. I would say Cabernet was the red border wines shut up. And there was a great for the [00:06:00] greatest I’d probably get their wines and believe me, that was a first did it, did it catch on? So that was as much as I knew it in the States in Britain, there was figure who was really my page in a sense.
He was a Frenchman who had lived in England for the whole of the 20th century. He’d written a hundred books. She was an absolute Chama. And I marveled my early writings really on him. Then there were other newspaper writers, not really critics. And then there was Kramen Postgate who produced a good wine guide.
There were a few, but newspapers did have regular column has said, or if they did, they were rare. And that’s how I go the [00:07:00] brakes a bit later on, because all Sunday times I was pleased to do it. And
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:07:04] you were quite young at the time. I mean, you were in your twenties when you were editing, helping edit the encyclopedia of wine and spirits.
Hugh Johnson: [00:07:12] was a bit precocious cause I was 27 when I wrote my first book, which is titled just why, I mean, why the four letter word, which was not used 66. So I suppose 27 is pretty
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:07:29] Tell me a little bit about your first book wine. What was the book about,
Hugh Johnson: [00:07:34] do you ever think about why? And really it’s first paragraph was a piece of inspiration. Because I wanted to set up why line interests and I go to a good store or you promote for cited to now, but it’s the first time I wrote my first book.
And from there now, so many people down the, uh, sort of said to me, I first got into wine. When I read that paragraph, it’s amazing. It was a sort of hook how much [00:08:00] I hung, everything that followed. It was about the rods. It was about why is why the interesting subject, because are so many varieties. Is Tom places based on grades, based on personalities, those are all cultures.
So it is not just a, a drink. It is something that sort of encapsulated civilization in a way
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:08:23] at the time of the writing of wine. And in your early career, did you have any mentor that inspired you and that you could go to for support in the early part of your career?
Hugh Johnson: [00:08:37] Same spot and encouraged me. I didn’t tell him, ask him questions. I traveled around Europe. Honeymoon was the 1965 vintage, which is remembered as one of the worst ever, never stopped writing. I took a lot of photographs. I read a big circuit of your [00:09:00] unimaginable now. I started, well, I thought great Polish would be earliest pitchers in Portugal, in the port country.
And my wife, uh, drove a little mini miner. John Dontrell Gibraltar to harass Sherry vintage. We put the little, uh, not a liner to Balter to Naples. Was a holiday Italian line that had a ship called the Rafaella alone of the Italians immigrants to the U S crossed the ocean on this ship. We had wonderful company not wearing.
I can tell you. This was traveling in a sense. So most people weren’t doing it those days, I suppose, and picking up ideas on the way and realizing I took photographs in Tuscany of the vintage that nobody would believe [00:10:00] how primitive it was. Astonishingly promotes not very clean, but we had a glorious time.
Then we drove up through. Oh, it was a long journey catching up in Germany and it provided me with the color to make my book readable because I hadn’t seen these patients. What was I going to say about them? Was that a lot of reading? I put it together.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:10:25] So you’ve authored what is considered by many, the first serious attempt at mapping, the world’s wine regions, the world Atlas of wine in 1971, before you published it, how did one learn about the different wine regions of the world did want to have to travel?
Or were you reading many different books and putting it all together? Tell me a little bit about that. And what was the impetus for the world? Atlas of one?
Hugh Johnson: [00:10:50] I realized very early on with my first book, that maps were a vital tool and key for understanding what anybody was talking about. [00:11:00] His old very well just reciting a list of village names, but who was at the guns, remembers every shone, uh
et cetera. Nobody’s going to remember them until they see them through it becomes graphic. So I always wanted. To do maps and then by the reckless good for, to a publisher who I knew would be publishing. My first book came to be, and he said, who won about five maps? Do you think it would make sense to do?
And I must. And I said, well, it depends on how good the maps are because really detailed ordinance type maps, uh, totally believable. You can’t battle around with a, like, Pat you all staging facts in Israel. And I said, if we can have BAPS up to that level of quality. It will be a unique illustration of the venue, [00:12:00] older posts.
We couldn’t have that detailed politics. We could do it for the classic front. So, um, that’s what I did. I went to the office and I’ll do patters, which wasn’t a very impressive, how do I say hybrid tended to do and could they help? And they said, Oh, that’s a good idea. One of our members thought of that some years ago.
And we gave it to the Portuguese to work on it. And we’ve got a file here or somewhere. So they went there
with one sheet of paper. So all the drawings have to be done. And it interested everybody. Once I explained what I was trying to do, the real groundwork of mastered for the classic regions of France. Well, it was a series of maps published just before the second world war [00:13:00] by a guy called Louis llama. And they were super curb maps, very large, beautifully produced.
And with a rumor that he couldn’t even get the paper
maps. So that was a great kick top for me, but for all the other countries and regions. So I just have to look at it. And I’m 60 years later, I’m prepared to give away the fact that sometimes I made it up, nobody was telling me nobody would believe how disorganized the library was. Then you have personal friends, but those times are sort of real organized.
There were a few laws abate. Um, um, I remember I went to the, when I was in the door doing deport maps, I could get no joy out of anybody. I went to the trainers, shippers like tailors and crafts and Coban [00:14:00] and said, can you help me map? Hey, they did look really excited after months of waiting. And I didn’t really have that time to wait.
However, I told him there’s only one thing for it. I got a battle map of the Jordan Valley. I drew on it where I thought the
I’m going to try to get runs rulership as much as I could correct this whole. I’m not sure I’ve got it quite right. Not one of the directors. They all said, yes, that’s right. That’s right. So that was the original port now. That
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:14:34] is an amazing story. Did you have any idea at the time when you first published the first edition that you would be releasing the eighth edition in 2019?
And how has the book changed over those many additions?
Hugh Johnson: [00:14:48] Well, I actually finished, I did four additions on my own and I sort of fully expected to do that, but it got more and more laborious and I had other. [00:15:00] Um, some other things I was writing and it got a bit wearisome because it was by me being every six years.
So I was working on it. Then I thought not trying to do this again on my own.
By this time I was very good friends with justice Robinson. We’ve been through a lot of tastings together. We’ve seen quite a lot of retailers have Nick, her husband, and I sort of rather gingerly approached us and said, how would you feel about helping me? And she said, I have to dock the deck. I’m not sure about that.
It’s going to be, but she agreed. And from the fifth edition on no, the last four additions. She has graduated to be doing more and more of the legwork, more of the heavy lifting and is now much, much boat combine. And then that’s [00:16:00] as it should be, and to shoot actually much more professional than I have been with, of course, this huge database.
So it’s available now. You don’t go groping around for officers to questions. You go to the internet. So, and there are literally Google maps to consult. Kind of, we’re not dealing with a whole lot of facts that are simply not available, so yeah. Yes. You’ve got to check.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:16:25] You mentioned at the beginning of the interview, the book that you’re most proud of the story of wine, which has just recently been rereleased and republished by Stephen Spurrier’s Academy, divine library.
Tell us a little bit about this book. It is a fascinating read and quite a different approach to writing about wine than the encyclopedia. Or the world Atlas, I should say of one. How did it come to be and what makes you so proud of this book? Well,
Hugh Johnson: [00:16:52] I’ve been doing reference books of one time or another for a long time.
I also wrote a huge book, jumps, blind [00:17:00] companion that went into additions. And the text of that is I’m quite proud of that on the flip. And then to the last two edition, I had the co-author Stephen, Brooke. Who’s a wonderful London wine writer. Now that I realized that I wasn’t going to do that anymore. And I began looking at television.
I’m thinking there’s a great story here. Could I get it on television then television would not keep the BBC was not keen on wine. GemCis had done some programs for really good programs, but they sent it wine has dotted on a visual graphic subject. How do you show people to taste them look red? So we’re all very keen on it.
And then I met one of the great television producers of cover of time, a man called Michael Gill. And he had coined the whole idea of BBC. Serious documentary [00:18:00] with very, very famous Russian civilization kind of clock. Um, I talked to Michael about it and I said, could you imagine, tell me, I guess, about wine.
He said, well, tell me the story. And we ended up making a 13 part television series for public broadcasting at Boston. And for one of the channels kind of fall and many other channels across Europe and even Japan that work very, very well to do it. I had to employ a research, a young historian called Helen.
She was a real fine star. She did so much research for me. She read all sorts of things that I now no time to read. Oakton languages are their daughters. And we built up a fantastic dossier of information. Part of which a small proportion could use in the TV series. I mean, it was all good grounding. [00:19:00] It made me confident that I was telling the right story, but the actual detail, you don’t know you can’t fit it in, in television time.
So when the series came out, it was a big success. And I had all this documentation. So the obvious thing to do was to write a book and two years loving because then I could really use the detail that Helen had found for me. And I was taught and I’d traveled a lot to put together a history, which I’ll just call a history because that sounds a bit pompous and off putting.
So I told them the story about. And that’s what you got. I love doing. It’s a very long book, huge amount of detail. It was a lot of anecdotes, a lot of personalities. Ventures come into it as it’s, it’s really a story. It is
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:19:48] a wonderful, wonderful book. And it’s one of those reads you pick up thinking you’ll read one or two chapters and put it back on your nightstand for the next evening.
And it just one page ties [00:20:00] into the next and pulls you all the way
Hugh Johnson: [00:20:01] through. Well, that’s very gratifying. I loved doing it well. It was 30 years old last year, students and his. Publisher Simon McMurtry started this new publishing house called the Academy Duval library. And Steven and Simon said to me, what’s happened to your great story as a bullet is just sort of lying really because it hasn’t been reprinted for some years.
And they said, well, could we have it? I said, you bet you can have it. Which is how it came up. Almost. I got do books, amazing.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:20:42] And the Academy Divan library now publishing such great titles. Yours is one of them as well, but almost revitalizing a lost art of wine writing that isn’t just a reference book, but real writing about the subject.
Hugh Johnson: [00:20:56] you don’t really think there’s a lost art.
[00:21:00] Christian Oggenfuss: [00:21:01] Absolutely not. And in fact, it’s the joy to discover these writings. I know in, in wine education circles, oftentimes much has talked about the reference books, but there is so much to be learned from books like yours. I just
Hugh Johnson: [00:21:13] want to add to that interject please, because the internet has made reference.
So vailable. So every body there’s less need for reference folks. In my opinion, books, books about tastes and the boat motivations and emotion and all the other aspects of wine, which leads me to, if I may talk about our times, or will you come to that? The oxides of Davis came like this because we were moving house eight years ago from the large country, Austria.
To move into a small lodge in London. And I went up into the attic and I found options of boxes, boxes, my writing, proof, [00:22:00] research, materials, all that kind of stuff. I cannot throw this away who would be interested in talking to monitor universities? I realized that UC Davis is really the SI is it. A central point of line scholarship in the technical sense it’s library, the shields library is like no other online.
So I went to Davidson. I said, look, what about my archives here? Would you be interested in as a bet, I’d love to have them. So I shipped all these crates of stuff over to California and they said, well, it came in conversation. I did a lecture there. So introducing, and there was a general agreement that they had, why don’t other people’s end of that moment.
Chapter’s Robbins was also moving house. So I said to James is quite, you’re [00:23:00] sending your old papers, have them, this began to snowball. And they asked parents people for that paper by Bob Thompson and St. Elena was wrong. So there was. Getting a critical mass. And then the wonderful Warren went there, came to him as these lectures.
Uh, he said, this is something I really support because we’ve got all the technical stuff we’re ahead of the game. But there’s another aspect to why to that is fine appreciation. So the reverse with the client there’s how is one enjoyed by motivation about the language of art? So that was sort of base and founded on my archive as good as his word.
Very, very generously gave a great big check. So they’re going to have us to support, um, uh, many, many people who be an approach to a lot of approach Davis. The massive papers is really [00:24:00] considerable and the wonderful thing is that they’re digitizing it. So I’m starting to digitize my body change my correspondence.
So anyone who’s interested can Google a letter that I wrote or was written to me back in the 1970s. Richard is extraordinary.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:24:19] That is truly amazing. I mean, what a gift to give to UC Davis and what a gift to have UC Davis make those available digitally for readers. It is truly a modern technical wonder.
Hugh Johnson: [00:24:30] It’s the technical one that I’m just to run the Rapids. I think it’s amazing. But within seven years idea being born, it really existed in a big way. It is truly
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:24:41] the wine writing world coming together and thanks to the support of war and we’re in our ski and making that possible. I want to transition to a topic that maybe most listeners aren’t aware of, that you also write about a different subject than wine, and you have another passion than wine.
Can you tell us a little bit, what [00:25:00] else excites you? And besides this
Hugh Johnson: [00:25:02] arose, when I publish the world, this is. 1971. And it was a big success from the word goes. It had to be with so much detailed Kara, such quality of production on everything else. So James Mitchell, my publisher said to me, okay, here now what’s your next project?
And I said, trees and usually cheese. And I said no tea. And he said, no, he said trees and other consumer subjects, wine and cheese. I understand that. Jeez. So with a bit of help from one of the really big paper, cup and dos and counted on the international paper company, we got the thing off the ground and made a magnificent quality tool.
The international book of trees. Came out in 1973. And that really said [00:26:00] I met so many marbles people in forestry horticulture. So I’m going to duplicate my passion by then. I had my own God. So I became a God and I started writing problem. Then I was invited to edit the journal of the Royal horticultural society or to direct it.
And I started a column. Which still goes on 45 years later. And it’s called trad diary, Trev being short for tradition. And if you want the background Tradescant was first famous English God in the subject centric. Anyway. So I read his diary and I still do. And it’s now online and it has been for years, it’s like, gosh, it be.
Semi technical thing about plants, gardens, trees, forest, everything which attracts me in that area. You said to me why the vine is a tree or it would be a tree if it could stand up straight. Um, we have a family [00:27:00] producing beauty useful does involve great skills. I see the relationship between these subjects very
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:27:09] clearly.
Wonderful. Um, when I was doing my research, I found that very interesting is the book about trees still in circulation in publication? Yeah,
Hugh Johnson: [00:27:18] I did the second edition of it after a gap of something like 40 years and it is called the new additions. It’s cool priests. Believe it or not. Cree’s a lifetime journey.
It’s through forests and gardens. Fascinating, beautiful book. But that overreached myself. Cause I, I read a book called the principles of God, Sandra, the pump. I really wanted to understand God and I was just into it. And as any journalist knows, a way to find out about a subject is to write a book about it.
So day I rushed this brokerage came out in 1979. If it exists now, I think it’s called the art [00:28:00] school. The principles gardening. I’m not ashamed of it, I
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:28:03] must say. So. I’d like to ask you two more questions before we transition into some contemporary issues. And one is, I was surprised to learn in from some research that from 1986 to 2001, you were a director for the Bordeaux first growth Chateau Latour.
Can you talk a little bit about that and how did that come about and what did that position entail?
Hugh Johnson: [00:28:26] Well, why did they ask me shadow British? No longer is the great Harry Wall. Whose name is familiar to all your readers and listeners blind tag rights, hollering in the stage. He was a board director because he was a director of hobbies, one firm that had bought a big shower.
All this happened in 1962. So it was showed and the [00:29:00] British French and all that that’d be winter is rooted very well. We might want to introduce that until well, now I was explaining why they asked me, I think. My name was quite big in the one. Well, then I had friends and so the chairman invited me to lunch one day said, come on the board, which was of course with fantastic privilege as well.
It was a pleasure and it meant many, many visits to the Chateau and the great defunding of my knowledge. I mean, I would never really found out about how you make the best photo or how you sell it without being on that boat. So a great episode in my life. Wonderful memories. Also, we had the best sheriff in the middle, so that tanked her dad when also Dino’s well, the Chateau, well, we were sad, but, uh, it’s quite right.
French [00:30:00] fans. He has as much money as anybody could possibly need and more, and he’s poured it into making the best possible wine was a brilliant director. A nice spread is addressed
to the Napa Valley and they’re all together. He’s a, he’s a real habitat Mr. Moneybags, because sure. But he also absolutely adores. Right. There’s a lot about it. So all
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:30:29] good news. Another interesting fact is you were a co-founder of the Royal Tokai wine company in hungry. What led to this ambitious price?
That was a
Hugh Johnson: [00:30:38] moment of great excitement, the collapse of the communist empire in Europe in 1989. When one or another of these European communist stage collapsed. And it was very clear that that was the skids for communism. I tasted great [00:31:00] from Hungary. I knew that it had been considered one of the world’s greatest wines, the most expensive wine of all in the 19th century.
I knew that the communists had screwed it up. Did we just become a sort of sweet Browns, liquid? Why, if a wine has been great, if the vineyards have had a great reputation, they still exist. The same grapes are still planted. The methods it can be realized. So this was the work of great pride to mine.
Danish wine, make a pita vintage Dez. Who is also a historian. And she told her remarkable career Staci to learn about why and talk Africa. And he’s made some testing. Ryan Taylor shot. He’s not in system day. He’d make great wines wherever he is. He and I are good friends for 50 years. He started to talk about saying, we must go there to help revive it.
[00:32:00] And I went on, came on board with him immediately after the revolution or the freedom of 99 to recollect the, I just want a big change that laws. And we started to sort of grow the grapes from growers around the village and people of course, inevitable joke about that. We started from the beginning by being very, very picky.
I never said it, but he verified. Right? So even a 91 93, we dropped up the name of the royalty company because we didn’t have to do a company. Royal sounded sort of grand and hungry to have. So it started being recognized by the few people who would be interested in those days. But you’re too, too for a job with the bosses [00:33:00] and London colors of the day.
And I said, this is just amazing how we began marketing it, but we never had any capital. We did the whole thing on the shoe level. So not many people were prepared. I invited all sorts of people to come over and see the venue behind. Eric was getting very interested. At one point, I had friends over from California and they will look at it from their heads and said, you’re not going to make any money.
Can I get out to 10 years? I said, no way, this is going to take 25 years to build this up to its full potential. So we didn’t get it
all done by Ben Klein, man, who’s not written a very good book about Sherry, which published by the accountability library. Um, whatever little coach, really, really great [00:34:00] friends who love wine. So Ben started marketing his wonderful job. 25 years later, it was a new owner. Who is on deck. There’s a dongle story attached to that.
Um, something that you’re trying to get her, it was exactly 25 years later or so to read the crystal ball, right. That we actually first made any profit out of it. And a lot of talk is a recognized brand in magazines. Just one was a great wine brands of the world. It gets a hundred points. And it’s been, it’s really a journey, a lot of satisfaction.
I don’t actually have any activity in the company. I’d have all adjusted, join the line. What an amazing
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:34:43] story and what an amazing journey to bootstrap as we Americans like to say the company from obscurity to one of the top wine brands in the world.
Hugh Johnson: [00:34:52] Yeah. It was from zero.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:34:54] Let’s talk a little bit before we wrap up about what inspires you in the wine [00:35:00] world of all the experiences you’ve had from the beginning of.
Cambridge university, where you were introduced to wine to current day, has there been a common thread of inspiration in wine that has kept,
Hugh Johnson: [00:35:14] she
loves the court who’s out with all them folks are tasting a new something new every time, if you’ll go on the ride ride. That is what’s so wonderful about it. Yeah, there’s infinite and a story behind each vibe. I mean, when you get to industrial line, the fascination, perhaps
something that merely tastes of or something, he was saying, well, Oh dear, we need a better chef, but you can say that on mountain, the hand shots around the corner. [00:36:00] Inspiring individuals who really Kaz a Newport she’s on sewn into it gives you a new experience with tasting the place where the light is from and no tasting keys.
Enthusiasm had been, hopefully you’re tasting good ripe
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:36:14] grapes. Well, the flip side to that is this question, and that is what aspect in the wine industry has frustrated you. I
Hugh Johnson: [00:36:24] think I’d be terribly frustrated. I get annoyed by fashion. Occasionally. I mean, one thing that has always annoyed me is park as a hundred point system.
But I mean, that’s anybody who knows anything about me knows that I think it’s rubbish. Um, subdued not possible. I’m very depressed by the fact that all the wine journals and magazines now automatically feel that you’ve got to do it because to me it’s just nonsense. But I may be the only person singing that too.
And I don’t mind I could do it. There’s no way if you gave me a glass of wine and I could [00:37:00] teach it and say, Oh, that’s 92 points or something. I just wouldn’t know where to stop. Would you so that his business will recover irritation if you like. There are other fashions that fashion there’s always somebody who fashion.
I’m not that crazy about all the talk about bachelor, because that is all that natural can be more or less natural, but you can’t define something as being actual. I just saw this too, as a good idea to avoid additions. That’s what you call them. But then people would say, what about finding something or that you wouldn’t actually had it?
That’s part of the process really work with simplifications. Every time somebody tries to simplify why they get it wrong or they get off track. It is a very complicated subject. Why should want to apologize for that? Most of the best subjects in the world are complicated. [00:38:00] Are you going to simplify music for job?
Well, you can, but very
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:38:06] well said, a lot of our listeners are probably aspiring wine writers or have fantasized about picking up the pen and writing about this beautiful subject. What advice would you give an aspiring wine writer today on how to get started? Well, right.
Hugh Johnson: [00:38:25] Also will entry into any other kind of writing.
You just call it, do it. Your judge feels judged, but it doesn’t exist to do make it. So I just would advise Mr. Well, interesting. All right. It can be, but you know, the other things, the more you feel about it, that could be interesting too. It’s a very individual thing. She must be and it got to be [00:39:00] individual.
It’s not worth reading.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:39:01] Who are some of the great contemporary writers that inspire you today? Who do you respect the most in wide writing of the contemporary? Right. I don’t really want to get
Hugh Johnson: [00:39:11] into that because I don’t read them. I don’t really cover the waterfront. I just don’t try to be Frank. I mean, I’ve got people that are great for the ability for me to pick.
I mean, I’ll just let Janice Robinson, because we are obviously huge friends and colleagues and her website. Jensen’s robinson.com is the other best thing in the business. Had people who write for some are going absolutely first class, but there are many, many others I can’t really cherry
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:39:42] pick. So my final question is you in this rich career that you’ve had of wine writing and all you have accomplished, what is next for you?
What is it the next project for you? I write
Hugh Johnson: [00:39:55] magazine articles still for the decanter magazine, the world of fine wine, [00:40:00] but that’s not really a project. No, I rarely have a big project. I just called her on from day to day, enjoying life and writing about the things I enjoy. As I always have. So no, don’t sort of chalk me up a huge book to come.
There will be new edition books, but I’m
got involved in a big project.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:40:24] I want to thank you very much for taking time out of your schedule of this evening, to speak with me and share your thoughts and stories with our listeners. It’s been a great honor and a great
Hugh Johnson: [00:40:35] pleasure. No, not at all who doesn’t like totally about themselves to such a nice interlocutors.
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:40:42] Well, thank you very much. And I look forward to searching out the book on trees that is going to be in my next read. And I just have to again, tell you how much I have enjoyed the story of wine, reading that book over two sittings. So over two days, phenomenal read and for listeners who would be interested in [00:41:00] picking up.
A copy of that. Please visit the Academy Divan library and get yourself a copy of his latest reprint of one of his greatest
Hugh Johnson: [00:41:08] works. The library
Christian Oggenfuss: [00:41:21] thank you for joining us this week on the stories behind wine. If you would like to suggest an interview, subject, or show topic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, that email addresses email@example.com. If you’d like what you’ve heard, we hope that you will visit our website Napa Valley wine academy.com forward slash podcast.
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