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.