“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.