The Hotel Georges V in Paris was the location of a decadent lunch of blue lobster, Limousin lamb and classified Saint Emilion wines held to celebrate Hugh Johnson’s 70th birthday.
Among the guests were French actresses Zoe Felix and Marisa Berenson, who starred in the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon, Agathe Godard of Paris Match, plus Serena Sutcliffe, director of Sotheby’s wine department, and leading UK wine writers Oz Clarke, Robert Joseph, Charles Metcalfe, David Peppercorn, Decanter’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier and the magazine’s publishing director Sarah Kemp.
Lunch was cooked by Eric Briffard, the chef des cuisines of the hotel’s celebrated Cinq restaurant, and Michel Roux Senior, Michelin-starred legend of the Waterside Inn at Bray and London’s Gavroche.
Gerard Perse of Chateau Pavie, Premier Cru Classe of Saint Emilion hosted the lunch, and gave a vertical of ten years of Chateau Pavie (1998 to 2008) immediately beforehand. Monbusquet Blanc 2006, and the 1998 and 1999 Chateau Pavie also accompanied the food.
‘As I’m sure is true for many of us here, Hugh’s books have helped me learn about wine, and continue to do so today,’ Perse told the assembled diners over the lunch, which comprised two course cooked by Briffard, and two by Roux.
‘Gastronomy and wine have long enjoyed a successful partnership,’ said Michel Roux. ‘And my friend Hugh Johnson has illuminated both with both great insight, and great humility.’
The British Contingent – from left: Oz Clarke, Charles Metcalfe, Joanna Simon, Steven Spurrier, Gerard Perse, Neil Beckett, Hugh Johnson, Margaret Rand, Serena Sutcliffe, James Lawther, David Peppercorn, Robert Joseph, Sarah Kemp, Stephen Brook, Jane Anson
Hugh Johnson has sold over 15m books, his works have been translated into 17 languages, and he has had nearly 50 years in the wine world.
He told decanter.com, ‘to be welcomed by the owner of a great Bordeaux chateau, and to be able to bring all my friends along, is pretty marvellous actually.’
Johnson was awarded the OBE in 2007, and was Decanter Man of the Year in 1995.
Don’t miss Hugh Johnson in Decanter magazine, on the evolution of the wine trade over the last 50 years. In the June issue, out 6 May
Written by Jane Anson in Paris