Interview With Richard Juhlin



Richard Juhlin is one of the top Champagne experts in the world. At the annual Spectacle du Monde tasting in 2003, the Sweden-born Juhlin successfully identified 43 out of 50 Champagnes that were tasted blind. He is the author of several books, including “A Scent of Champagne” released this year, which provides descriptions and ratings of 8000 Champagnes. In addition to television and writing, Juhlin is often involved in consulting work with Champagne houses, as well as speaking at major events around the world.


Last month, at the launch of G.H. Mumm’s Brut Sélection Cuvée in Hong Kong, Asian Palate spoke with Juhlin.


AP: Asian Palate                     RJ: Richard Juhlin


AP: Champagne was not your first professional endeavor – you used to be a physical education teacher. How did you decide to switch your career and devote yourself to Champagne?


RJ: Champagne became my hobby when I was ready with my education for sports teaching. The hobby just grew and got more and more serious each year. One day the hobby took over and my tasting skills in combination with my passion made it possible to go professional in the champagne field.


AP: Overall, which 3 vintages of Champagne do you think are the best in quality and longevity over the past 15 years and why?


RJ: 1996 is the winner but requires exceptional time. Very similar to the 28 with its unique combination of maturity, alcohol and high acidity. 2008 is almost as good and more classical with more pleasure from the start like a 49, 55 or 64 in style. After that there is a quality gap but 2002 is also beautiful. 


AP: What’s your opinion on the current state and potential of the market for Champagne in Asia, specifically Hong Kong and China?


RJ: Within a few years China will be the number one market. Already it is growing fast with Hong Kong being the center. The Chinese’s willingness to understand the best of European culture and the huge population in combination with economic growth makes this the most interesting market already.


AP: What are some of the common mistakes you notice people make when enjoying Champagne? When pairing food with Champagne?


RJ: Wrong glasses is the most common mistake and too cold champagne. When it comes to food pairings sweetness is the big enemy and far to many are drinking champagne to dessert. 


AP: Can you please share a few of the best Champagne and Asian food pairings that you’ve experienced?


RJ: I am crazy about Suckling Pig with Pinot Noir based champagne like Bollinger or Gosset. Peking Duck with medium aged rich grower champagnes and sushi with youthful Blanc de Blancs such as Henriot Blanc de Blancs, Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs or Mumm de Cramant. 


AP: How do you feel of the new launch Brut Selection from G.H. MUMM?


RJ: Very successful because of the great intellectual interest from the audience to understand the terroir of champagne. The 2008 based selection is a sleeping beauty wich takes time to develop its full potential but already beautiful with food.