Larsson gives the lowdown on life as a wine buyer

During two decades in the wine trade, Johan Larsson has been a sommelier at some of Stockholm’s finest restaurants and head steward to the King and Queen of Sweden. In 2010 he joined Systembolaget, the government-owned chain of liquor stores in Sweden, as a wine buyer. He is currently responsible for France.

Could you describe your role as wine buyer for Systembolaget?
As buyers at Systembolaget, we are responsible for all products of a specific origin or category in our some 440 shops throughout Sweden. This includes contacts with distributors, producers and other stakeholders in the industry through regular meetings and travels to the respective origins and trade shows. In close relationship with our category managers, the buyers set up plans for future launches. The buyers get to write the tender requests and, through blind tastings, they select the products best fitting these tender requests. All buyers at Systembolaget are ISO Certified tasters, and often hold a diploma degree or higher degree combined with work experience from either our shops or from working at various importing companies or producers, or as sommeliers.

Why are you attending Vinexpo Paris and what do you hope to achieve there?
By attending the trade show, I get to meet with producers to get a understanding of what’s available for their respective portfolio and to see if and how these products fit our consumers’ needs. That includes all aspects of the products, including liquid, packaging and design.

Will you be attending any of the master classes or seminar sessions?
Usually, I do not attend master classes or seminars during trade shows. I tend to prioritize meetings instead.

As your responsibility is for France, can you say anything please about which wines from the country are gaining popularity?
We see an increase in the wines showing typicity of origin and grape (or style). Certified organic wines are still very popular and we have a continuous interest in developing this field as well as more environmentally friendly packaging such as lightweight bottles and PET.

Photo: Johan Larsson, wine buyer, Systembolaget