Henry Johnstone's unedited entry in our seminal wine competition is published below. He writes about himself, 'I am 26 years old and live and work in London, having spent my childhood in the East Sussex countryside. Whilst sport – particularly rugby, cricket and golf – has always been my passion, in recent years the wine world has captured my imagination. I love travelling and my most recent holiday took me to Israel where I visited some of the beautiful vineyards in the Judean Hills.'
Whilst I had a mild interest in wine throughout my youth, it was a bottle of 1983 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle that has fuelled my now obsession with oenology. Back in August 2016, having just achieved a top mark in an industry examination, my boss (also a oenophile) suggested that we go out for a bite to eat to celebrate. Little did I know that, having cleared it with the restaurant owner, he had brought along such an iconic wine for us to taste. I had never been exposed to such a mature and prestigious wine and I was completely and utterly blown away by the whole experience. I still to this day can remember the powerful aromas of earth and mushroom which blew my mind (and subsequently drove me to embark on my pilgrimage through the wine industry). I can remember feeling almost mildly disappointed as I went to take my first sip. Not because of any flaw or defect with the wine, but because I had to stop my intense sniffing (albeit only for a second as I took a taste – poor me!). I was so astounded by the various different flavours and nuances of the taste and composition let alone the sheer length of finish – something I had never experienced before.
Since this day, I have taken it upon myself to educate myself about wine which I do by reading countless articles and delving into numerous books and podcasts. I am also extremely passionate about educating others about wine – particularly my younger generation – and am determined to remove the dated stereotypes surrounding wine and the people that drink it. I am 26 years old and want to make wine more accessible to people of all ages so that everyone can enjoy wine and no one feels out of place or uncomfortable when tasting or talking about it.
In line with this competition subject, I strongly believe that having that one special bottle or experience can get you completely and utterly hooked and therefore I’m looking to find ways in which everyone can access these moments (I’d love to discuss my ideas if you were ever interested). By doing this, I hope that people of all ages will take more interest in what they are drinking and spend more time selecting bottles rather than purchasing any odd ‘on offer’ plonk from the local supermarket. Whilst naturally there are significant barriers to entry with regards to accessing immensely special wines (namely cost, ‘single bottle dilemma’, etc.), there are so many amazing wines available in that £10-30 price bracket. If people were to engage a little more and take pride in their wine selections then I think that they would not bat an eyelid paying this £5-20 premium per bottle.
In my opinion there is nothing more thrilling or satisfying than finding a wine that knocks your socks off and I hope that I (and many more people) will have plenty of experiences like my first time with the 1983 Hermitage.