We’ve taken a 1-on-1 talk with Richard Juhlin. A champagne-talk about his photographic scent memory? How to train Your senses.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
How did you come up with your talent, that you have a photographic scent memory?
I have always been interested and strongly influenced by scents and probably suspected that I was a little extra sensitive and had a good nose, but I was hardly aware of the uniqueness. It really started with my passion for champagne without me having any goal to become a star in the field. But as I started tasting champagne blindly with my friends, I quickly realized that I must have some really great talent because I always recognized everything we had tasted before and was alone about it. That it was so extreme and unusual I did not understand at all in the beginning. It was probably only when, after a Swedish rocket career, I got to come to London and taste champagne together with my idols in the champagne world and noticed that I outclassed them in the same way as I did with my Swedish friends.
Is there anything you do to keep the fragrance memory on top?
The effect of the training is of course governed by how dedicated you are and by your physical conditions and how well you have built up your scent bank unconsciously in life before you start training consciously. If you want enough, you can get better fairly quickly just by stopping and smelling things and environments around you a few times a day. Take the object and close your eyes and smell faintly and concentrated and try to put words to yourself for what tones you find. Then you supplement the training with a game that most children have done at some point. Blindfold and let your friend bring out different spices, flowers, ingredients, objects and hold it in front of your nose and guess! The next step is blind tasting of wines.
How do you train your scent memory?
I have probably trained all my life, but that day in 1986 when I was bitten by champagne, I immediately realized that I would smell everything and everyone to train my nose. Today, I rarely find so many completely new scents in everyday life, so the focused training takes place when I blindly taste champagnes several times a week and describe them in www.champagneclub.com.
Tell us about your journey in wine and champagne? When did it all start and what have been your highlights during the journey?
It is too long a journey to get a place here, but let me cut it short and say that I was infected by the wine interest my father had and a trip to the Moselle Valley when I was 8 years old made me realize how incredibly good a wine could be. When I ended up in Reims at the age of 24, I fell in love and followed my passion until it became my successful job. The highlights are so many and I can not rank them, but my unique encounters with the world’s best champagnes in the world’s most beautiful places when Pål Allan and I made the book Champagne Hiking are unbeatable.
How many champagnes have you tasted?
13,600 different varieties from an estimated 150,000 bottles!
Which champagne is your favorite and why?
1928 Pol Roger Grauves Blanc de Blancs
I had heard that this wine would be exceptionally lively and bright, but I would never have been around with my guesses if it had not been served in the last round at Villa Pauli in 1999 where there were only old people. The scent was fabulously beautifully intertwined with notes of lime, linden blossom and lily of the valley. The taste was super fresh with a wonderful oily fruitiness that lasted for minutes.
My second bottle of this alien wine had the same disgusting date and it was with some hesitation that I dared to wait five years before relieving the cork. The wine was enjoyed at one of the most magical dinners in Swedish gastronomic history at Pontus in the Green House in March 2003.
During the evening we drank 1986 Selosse, three legendary vintages of Bollinger, two phenomenal Dom Pérignon Rosé, 61 Comtes de Champagne, Ramonet, Lafite , Romanée-Conti, Richebourg, Romanée-Saint-Vivant and 1947 Cheval Blanc. This 28th swept the carpet with everyone! The scent was so intense that I was moved to tears. The already phenomenal aroma bouquet had been further expanded with exotic tones of coconut, papaya and mint chocolate. Somehow this bottle that stood on top of its life just the day we opened the wine with the piece of art managed to combine the sour elegance of 79 Krug Clos du Mesnil with the exoticism of Comtes de Champagne and the mint tones of 38 Krug. I have to admit that I, my spoiled type, did not think that any wine could touch me as deeply as this wine did that night. I fell in love!
What is quality of life for you?
It is enough to achieve goals that bring happiness and they usually go through the pillars: Health, love, security, striving and enjoyment.
How do you live a day like you?
Fortunately, my life is very varied, which in itself is a form of quality of life. Before the pandemic, I traveled a lot and hopefully that part starts to pick up speed again at a reasonable level. At home, I train a lot and work mostly with writing and emailing during the days before I pick up the children from school and spontaneously shop for the evening’s important dinner. I do not drink much wine at home, however, I am a diligent star restaurant guest and often have large champagne tastings with about 20 champagnes to go through. Then I almost always spit. A lot of time is also spent on the passion for football, nowadays mostly by following my son’s exciting career.
Which scents do you think are best? What scents can you not stand?
There is a plethora of wonderful scents. The ones you love the most are usually connected with love memories or other wonderful moments. Objectively speaking, the best you can smell is the biggest red wines from Burgundy and the main champagnes, but I guess you mean honeysuckle, orange blossom, French bakery, black truffle from Vaucluse and the scent of my woman’s skin. The worst thing I have smelled is otter droppings and the most common stench I encounter is sour dishcloth and bad breath.Det finns en uppsjö av underbara dofter. De man älskar mest är oftast sammankopplade med kärleksminnen eller andra underbara stunder. Rent objektivt så är det godaste man kan dofta på de största röda vinerna från Bourgogne och de främsta champagnerna, men jag antar att du menar kaprifol, apelsinblom, franskt bageri, svart tryffel från Vaucluse och doften av min kvinnas hud. Det värsta jag luktat på är utterspilning och den vanligaste stanken jag möter är sur disktrasa och dålig andedräkt.
What perfume do you use?
I do not use perfume but want us to smell clean freshly washed man. However, I have to use deodorant and am quite unfaithful to the brands I like at the moment.