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Listen: Hugh Johnson speaks frankly about undrinkable Californian wines, abuse of the en primeur system and much more….

Fresh from his 70th birthday celebrations earlier this year, renowned wine writer Hugh Johnson met up for an informal lunch and a catch up with Decanter editor Guy Woodward and decanter.com editor Adam Lechmere. He shared his views on everything from undrinkable Californian wines to abuse of the en primeur system. Read the interview in this month’s issue of Decanter - Click here to subscribe

On Californian wines: ‘I got tired of Californian wines – too strong, not drinkable with food. You can say that 250 million Americans can’t be wrong, if they like these wines – but they are. Recently I’ve seen many wines that are more lively and balanced. Thankfully, there are 20m consumers who are now becoming more sophisticated.’

On Australian show judges: ‘Australian show judges are absurd – they say, ‘However good this wine is I’m going to give it zero because it’s got faults.’ I look for qualities in wine not faults. I’ve no reason to look for faults. I’m a hedonist. Even if a wine is corked or reeks of sulphur, if there’s something there that’s appeals, then I know that in there there’s something worth having.’

On en primeur: ‘The wines are tasted too early at en primeur and you know perfectly well that at a big chateau there’s no guarantee that what you are being given to taste is representative of the final wine. Are they going to choose the worst barrel to show? No, they choose the best wine they made last year with the most flattering oak. There are so many variables; the system is widely abused, I’m absolutely sure of it.’

Listen to the full interview below:


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