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james laube's wine flights

Our Oldest Reader Is Ready

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Nov 16, 2006 3:09pm ET

When our Wine of the Year is announced tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. EST, one reader who won’t be glued to his computer screen is Tom Malloy.

Oh, that’s not because he’s disinterested. He’s been drinking and collecting wine for longer than most of us have been alive, by a long shot. He’s also been a devout reader of Wine Spectator for decades and, frankly, it’s readers like him that hold a special place in our hearts.

You see, Tom is 95, and while his peak wine-drinking days are behind him, he is still fascinated by the subject (along with being both a keen movie buff who knows Francis Ford Coppola and an authority on sports) and follows it intently.

I know this because a dear friend of mine, Mary Jane Bowker, has cooked and served him dinner (and a glass of red wine) nearly every night for the better part of 20 years.

Of course, Mary Jane is a saint (and so is her husband, Dennis), as they lovingly care for their next-door neighbor, and over the years Mary Jane has helped Tom with his collection.

For years Tom, who is a Napa native and the one-time manager of the Uptown Theater, assembled his own collection, and he knew many of the old-timers who shaped the Napa wine industry from the 1950s through the 1970s.

He keeps a cellar in his home in downtown Napa and makes a habit of clipping out Wine Spectator reviews and taping them to the bottles.

He’s quite proud of his collection (aren’t we all) and likes to join in the hunt for Wine of the Year. Mary Jane says he’s gotten lots of the top picks, and she remembers Tom's passion for hunting down the Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay, our Wine of the Year in 1996.

Last night, Mary Jane told Tom about our countdown. He doesn’t own a computer, but he can’t wait until the winner is announced.

If there's a bottle in town, I'll find it, and take it over and open it with him. Wine is for sharing with friends. For all I know he’s our oldest reader, and he deserves special treatment.

James Mccusker
Okemos, MI —  November 16, 2006 6:33pm ET
Nicely put, James. Here's hoping you find that bottle to share with Tom and that he (and you!) will be around to enjoy many more.
Xavier Mariezcurrena
Atlantic City, NJ —  November 16, 2006 7:04pm ET
So is it '01 Valdicava? '03 Numanthia? Tell Tom I'll decant one of each right now. By lunch time tomrrow, the wines should be should be just starting to open up. ha ha...
Jason Thompson
Foster City, CA —  November 16, 2006 9:06pm ET
Great blog. Here's to hoping we can all be 95 and still drinking a glass a night.
Marianna Kump
New York —  November 16, 2006 10:59pm ET
James, you just made my night. This is what wine is all about. My warmest regards to Tom.
Sao Anash
Santa Barbara —  November 17, 2006 9:59am ET
James,Touching blog entry. Thanks for that. Hope I'm like Tom and still appreciating wine well into my 90's.
Alan Vinci
springfield, n.j. —  November 17, 2006 11:10am ET
James, a very touching story..Best wishes for Tom, and I do hope you both can share that special glass together. Tom gives us all a reason to have a good glass of wine tonight.. Cheers to you both!!
James Laube
Napa, CA —  November 17, 2006 7:07pm ET
Ok, it looks like Tom and the Bowkers are in great shape. Tim Johnson from Portland, Ore., just shipped a case to them for Thanksgiving. In it: 1995 Salon, Beringer PR 1994, Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages 1997, Spring Mountain Reserve 1997, Pride Cabernet Reserve 2001, Robert Foley Claret 2000, BV Georges de Latour 1997, a trio of Phelps Insignias 1994, 1995 and 1997 and a Peter Michael Les Pavots 2001. Oh, yes, and a bottle of the Casanova di Neri 2001. "The whole idea [about wine] is sharing it," he said. Class act.
Chris Anderson
December 5, 2006 12:55pm ET
Hello. What is going on with the hugh rating differences ie: Vine Cliff Cab Napa 2003 67 Pts. WS vs Wine Enthusiasts 92 Pts or Montelena Estate Cab WS 72 Pts vs R Parker 95Pts.Would love your input.Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson
December 5, 2006 1:11pm ET
Hello. What is going on with the hugh rating differences ie: Vine Cliff Cab Napa 2003 67 Pts. WS vs Wine Enthusiasts 92 Pts or Montelena Estate Cab WS 72 Pts vs R Parker 95Pts.Would love your input.Chris Anderson
James Laube
Napa, CA —  December 5, 2006 6:13pm ET
Chris, this is one of those situations where we do disagree and it's times like this that you have to taste the wine and decide for yourself. If you look in our database you'll see both of the Vine Cliff bottles I tried, in blind tastings, were stale and dirty, wines I would never recommend. As for Montelena, I purchased and tried, blind, three bottles and they all were dark and extracted, but also quite bitter and chalky.

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