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‘The wine was so good that tears came out of my eyes’

Staffan Hansson, one of the most respected wine collectors in the world, talks about the beginning of his love affair with wine, and shows us his Stockholm cellar and some its treasures

‘My parents didn't drink wine,’ reveals Staffan Hansson, one of the world’s most respected wine collectors. ‘They didn’t drink any alcohol at all, so I wasn’t brought up with wine. When I drank wine I would always choose the cheapest one because I wanted the effect, not the taste.’

Everything changed when Hansson was in his mid-20s and visiting New York. ‘We were out having dinner and I took one sip of the wine and thought, “My god, can wine be so good?” When I went home I went into the store [and asked the] manager what the best wine was that he had. He had a half bottle of Mouton Rothschild from 1949. It was so good that tears came out of my eyes.’ Hansson went back the next day and bought the remaining 50 bottles the store had in stock. ‘That’s how I started,’ he explains.

‘My philosophy has never been to buy wine as an investment. If you do that, it’s not a hobby but a business’

Fast-forward five decades and Hansson has amassed a superb wine collection, enhanced by his attention to detail on storage and provenance — many of his wines are cellared in a custom-built subterranean wine cellar at his Stockholm home, maintained at a constant temperature of 46° F. In addition, the collector has maintained catalogues of purchase records of wines acquired either directly from the winery or on-release from reputable wine merchants throughout Europe.

Highlights in the Finest and Rarest Wines: A Journey Through the Vinkällare of Staffan Hansson  sale on 22 June in New York include the rarest wines from Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy and California. Among them are case-quantities of fine Champagne, including Jacques Selosse, Salon, Philipponnat Clos de Goisses and Krug Clos du Mesnil, and cases of the rarest red and white Burgundy from legendary Domaines including Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Leroy, Leflaive, Coche-Dury, and René Engel. The sale also features Bordeaux’s greatest Châteaux, Italian superstars including Gaja and Masseto, and the rarest California wines from Screaming Eagle, Harlan and Sine Qua Non.

‘My philosophy has never been to buy wine as an investment,’ explains Hansson from his beautiful waterside home in Stockholm. ‘If you do that, you have to focus on that and then it’s not a hobby, it’s a business. Maybe I buy too much wine, but it’s still a hobby.’