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james laube's wine flights

The Moment We've Been Waiting For

Photo by: Greg Gorman

Posted: Feb 5, 2007 12:31pm ET

“Here goes,” said Tom Malloy as he picked up a glass of 2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova and took a sip. “Mmm, that’s good ... That’s really good.”

It took a while to find a date for all of us to uncork Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year for Tom, who I wrote about in November. The 95-year-old Napa wine collector and connoisseur had been given the Casanova di Neri by one of our most generous readers, Tim Johnson of Portland, Oregon.

It’s one of the great things wine does for us—connecting people who share a passion. After Johnson shipped Tom a case of great wines, Tom insisted that I be there to share it with him and two of his neighbors, Dennis and Mary Jane Bowker, who look after him, bringing him dinner and a glass of red wine most nights.

We dined at the Bowkers' home on Saturday night, and Tom was as sharp as ever, recounting the good old days in Napa, going back to the 1930s, and reflecting on his days as manager of the Uptown Theater. Except for some difficulties hearing, his mind is amazingly sharp, and conversation flowed easily as we drank the Casanova di Neri, which was tight, rich and concentrated, even after three hours in a decanter. 

We also opened two other gems from Johnson, including a brilliant 1994 Joseph Phelps Insignia, which was in great shape and looks to have another 15 years of life left. The 1997 Spring Mountain Reserve Cabernet, however, didn’t fare as well. It had developed what is called “brett bloom,” which is when brettanomyces develops in a wine after it’s bottled. The last time I tried this wine, there were no signs of this problem, an issue I'll talk more about in a future blog.

I enjoyed the evening immensely. It’s heartening to see people care for each other and share those special moments that often revolve around a great bottle of wine and great people.

Jaime C. Ordonez
MIAMI, FL —  February 5, 2007 3:53pm ET
I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO FIND THIS WINE(CASANOVA DI NERI) EVERYWHERE AND I CAN'T FIND A RETAILER HERE IN MIAMI THAT HAS IT. I LOOKED IN THE INTERNET AND FOUND A RESTAURANT IN BARBADOS THAT HAD IT, BUT I'M AFRAID TO BUY FROM SOMEONE I DON'T KNOW. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
James Laube
Napa, CA —  February 5, 2007 4:02pm ET
Jaime, try one of the on-line search engines that focuses on wine, or one of the on-line wine auction sites.
Steve Lenzo
PHX, AZ —  February 5, 2007 10:59pm ET
Jaime

Try either winbid.com or winecommune.com. If your looking for a direct retailer use wine-searcher.com.



Great story James. Nothing brings people together like wine lovers. I've drank with folks who have huge cellars, 5,000+ bottles and small ones, Multi-millionaires, professional athletes or just my local wine buddies. When a great bottle of wine is on the table I've found that none of that matters. It truly bridges gaps in all social circles.
Robert Caruana Jr
East Islip, NY —  February 6, 2007 10:12am ET
Great story James. Regarding the Casanova, I'm considering buying some of the '01 Riserva and was wondering when James Suckling's report on the 2001 Brunello Riservas is coming out?
Eric Hall
San Francisco, CA —  February 6, 2007 10:44am ET
Was it my imagination or was the story about the new GoldRidgePinot Project accidentally shortened?
James Laube
Napa, CA —  February 6, 2007 12:10pm ET
Robert, you'll have to reach out to James. Eric, we had a brief snafu...the blog is back...
Mary Jane Bowker
napa, ca —  February 7, 2007 8:49pm ET
Hi Jim,I finally made the blog scene!. I want to thank you so much for taking the time in having dinner with us. You have know idea how much your tasting wine with Tom Malloy meant to him. After all the years he has read your articles and chased after wines, he was in his glory to be seating at the same table sharing conversation and great wines. Thank you, mjb

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