To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Decanter World Wine Awards, we're profiling a number of this year's judges, who are some of the world's most renowned wine experts. Our 'Meet the Judges' interview series offers a rare insight into the world of wine and judging from the key industry experts choosing this year's best wines.
In this exclusive interview Decanter meets Johan Larsson, a Wine Purchaser for Systembolaget in Sweden and part of this year’s World Wine Awards judging panel for South Africa…
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you based and where do you work?
I’m based at the Swedish retail monopoly Systembolaget’s head office in Stockholm, where I work as Wine Purchaser.
Tell us a bit about your expertise and how you got into wine?
After university studies in Political Science and Economics, I turned to the world of wine. After four years working as a sommelier in restaurants, I spent some 10 years as Brand and Product Development Manager at various importing companies, as well as working for the Swedish Royal Family. The world of wine is an environment that has always inspired me and keeps inspiring me daily, both because of the human values of the drink itself and the people surrounding it.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while working in the wine industry?
Always listen carefully to what others have to say and trust your own taste.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your wine career?
Everybody I meet daily in meetings, tastings, during travels etc.
What is your most memorable wine moment from the last ten years?
It was last October – I sat in a restaurant in a remote part of Sweden and ordered a bottle of wine I took part in harvesting, making and selling some 15 years ago while living in France. I never expected to see it on a wine list after such long time. And it tasted wonderful too!
Which kinds of wines do you think should be given more attention in 2013?
Wines from lesser known origins or countries.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
I’m re-discovering ‘stickies’ (sweet wines) from all over the world.
What’s your desert island wine?
On a desert island I would be happy to have any wine available…
What single piece of advice do you have for new people just starting out in wine?
Taste everything that comes your way and have an open mind.
When judging, what are you looking for in great wine?
Balance and personality.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
The discussions around the judging table. I really appreciate the honest and sincere dialogue on the wines we’re fortunate to taste.
Written by Decanter.com
Johan Larsson is a wine buyer for Systemblogaget, responsible for all French wine buying.