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Reputed to have one of the most discerning palates in the industry, Hew Blair had one of the best wines he’s ever tasted only the day before he speaks to Spear’s: a 1945 Mouton Rothschild.
‘It was sensational,’ says Blair, who has been at Justerini & Brooks for 43 years and is one of the wine world’s true statesmen. ‘The colour was just starting to take on an amber shade but the wine was fresh and incredibly fruity and sweet. Seriously complex.’
Blair is a pioneer – he was the first to bring en primeur tastings to London, beginning with the Burgundy 1990 vintage. He is effusive about the success of the recent 2015 Burgundy campaign which saw more than £4 million worth of wine sold in just one night at One Great George Street, where Justerini holds its tastings. It’s a great vintage, says Blair, and the Pinot Noirs are especially good. The 2016 Bordeaux is excellent too – those from Northern Medoc are the ones to buy.
After 26 years as buying director, Blair is now honorary chairman of Justerini, which has been supplying the royal cellars since 1761. His favourite wine region is Mosel, which has seen enormous growth. ‘I love those dry Rieslings,’ he says. ‘It is the most aristocratic of all grape varieties: it has that purity.’