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Hugh Johnson cellar to go under the hammer

First-growths dating back more than 50 years and a large selection of vintage German wines are among a host of bottles to be auctioned from Hugh Johnson's cellar.

Johnson said that it was ‘agony’ deciding which bottles to part with for the auction, which will take place at 11am on May 13 at Sworders Stansted Mountfitchet salerooms, in north Essex.

The sale, which could raise tens of thousands of pounds, comes as a result of Johnson and his family selling their home of the past 40 years, Saling Hall, also in Essex.

The Elizabethan manor house has five cellars, which Johnson has taken delight in filling with top wines from the 20th Century, including some ‘real gems’.

A provisional auction list seen by Decanter.com reveals a series of first-growths and other top Bordeaux from down the ages, including Latour and Y’Quem 1945, as well as Latour 1937. There is also at least one bottle of Latour 1961; six bottles of the same vintage recently sold for £28,000 at an auction of part of the UK Government’s wine cellar organised by Christie’s.  

There’s a treasure trove of great wines from beyond Bordeaux, including a magnum of Krug Champagne from 1971, three 1830 Malmseys – regarded as a signature vintage – and a large selection of vintage German wines, as well as Burgundies, Spanish and Italian.

Highlights from Johnson’s Burgundy collection include two vintages of DRC Grand Echezeaux, two bottles of La Tache – 1988 and 1999 – and a 2000 Leflaive Chevalier Montrachet.

‘For me, one of the great joys of life is drinking vintage German wine,’ Johnson told Decanter.com this week. He highlighted a strong showing of Scharzhofbergers, largely from Egon Muller, and an assorted collection of wines from Robert Weil, set to include Riesling and Riesling Eiswein.

‘This is the majority of my cellar but by no means the whole thing. There’s nothing [on the list] that I would be ashamed of,’ said the Decanter columnist, author and gardener, who is downsizing his cellar as part of a move to London to be nearer his children and grandchildren.

‘We’re trying to be realistic about what we would actually drink in the next few years.’
The present auction list remains in draft form, but is set to have around 318 lots. Precise details of bottle numbers are not yet available for all the wines, but lots are likely to be bottles rather than case loads.  

Written by Chris Mercer

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