Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016 Christmas Wine—Tasting or Science? Maybe Both!

Christmas isn’t over, but we decided to open our Christmas bottles early. We actually opened two bottles. The first was a 1982 Chateau Cheval Blanc, a widely hailed great vintage from the Saint-Emilion 1st Grand Cru Classe house of the white horse. This bottle has been in my loving care since its release. There can be no issue of cellar abuse. I had wanted to save this great vintage for a very special occasion, but I could no longer ignore reports of its seeming decline. It was open it now or never experience it’s greatness. Alas, I was a bit too late. The 1982 was a wonderful drinkable wine that went superbly well with the fat rich rare prime New York strip streaks. But Cheval Blanc needed the food! It lacked the stand alone character that would make you just want to enjoy the wine—maybe with a little cheese or pâté.  Its fruits had faded when opened but rebounded after about an hour in the decanter; nevertheless, the 1982 bottle could have been any really good drinkable wine, maybe even a pinot or ,of course it’s true colors, a merlot.  “If you have them, smoke them.” There no reason to keep this any longer. It is not going to get any better.




The next bottle was an antique—a fifty year old Chateau Lafite Rothschild that had lived a questionable cellar life, at least from its outward appearance. Now this was interesting.  There is no question than the wine is well past its prime, but it still had a character all its own.  Unlike the 1982 that you just wanted to enjoy with the steak. You kept wanting to go back to the Lafite for another sip—another taste. What is the wine telling me now?  Some time old wine is more like a science experiment and maybe the Lafite was near that edge.  When first opened, you questioned its drinkability. Then things started to happen—but it was not the fruit, color, or nose of a young wine.  It was dried flowers. It was the taste of and nose of autumn.  Where the 1982 needed the food, the 1966 added something else to it but didn’t really need the food. It wasn’t part of the menu; the wine stood alone.  It was not a wine to drink—it was a wine to sip. The ‘66 Lafite was a wine to be taken in small doses with amble resting time between those taste. You wanted to observe its evolution once freed from its fifty-year imprisonment.
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It is the next day and as you would expect there is nothing left of the 1982 Cheval Blanc, but there is still a little of the Lafite in the carafe, and I just repeated the experiment—another sip. The color was and still is very light-darker than a Rose but bourbon like. The point being that it’s color  has faded with age.  The taste is old but no tannins; it is leather and dried flowers—a walk in the woods.  But you know I still want another sip.  As for the 1982, I have done that and checked it off the list. However, I would love to try another ‘66 Lafite, just to see if that other bottle, maybe treated with better care, is any different. I’ll remember the ’66, and that is the difference character makes. It is unique. It is memorable. Where the 1982 gave you all its answers; left you with no questions. The ‘66 just may still be hiding something that another bottle might answer. 

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.



Saturday, December 17, 2016

An Antique Wine for Christmas 2016

Soon we’ll celebrate another Christmas. And as our new tradition continues, we will enjoy another antique wine during the holidays. One I will tell you about when the season is over and that last drinkable sip has been drained leaving behind a little residue from the bottle’s years of resting in its cellar.

If you recall, it was an antique 1947 vintage of Chateau Cheval Blanc that was a central character in my book The Claret Murders. The ‘47 Cheval Blanc is considered by many to be the greatest wine every made.  I did have the great fortune of tasting a small share of this extraordinary wine at a tasting dinner several years ago.

In the animated hit Ratatouille, feared critic Anton Ego visits Gusteau's, the restaurant in which the movie is set, and orders a bottle of 1947 Château Cheval Blanc to go with his meal. The wine critic, Mike Steinberger, noted that the film which is full of delicious insider moments for foodies did so as wink to the wine lovers. He explained,
 “That's because the '47 Cheval is probably the most celebrated wine of the 20th century. It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies.”


Today, seventy years later, a single surviving bottle of the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc purchased, rather than retrieved from one’s cellar, can cost as much or more than $12,000.

Last year’s antique treasure got close but miss this greatest of all wine by just one year. We celebrated that Christmas with a 1948 Cheval Blanc.

Our 1948 bottle was very much alive—wonderful, but no longer a characteristic Claret. It smelled of plums and raisins with the taste of an exceptionally smooth port. We paired the wine with cheese and rich fat hamburgers that brought back the richness of the wine and showed its nobility as a great Claret from the house of the white horse.

What makes the experience of an antique wine so exceptional is the realization that you are one of the last people on earth to have the opportunity to taste the wine—through the experience you time travel back in to its birth. It is the product of soil, weather, and the light hand of the wine maker at that precise place and time in history. Like a snowflake—it is unique and can never be repeated.



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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.



Friday, December 2, 2016

EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!

Qualifying for a Tennessee carry permit requires mandatory training and being tested on the firing range. In spite of the sustainable personal investment in time and expense, many Tennesseans have gone through the process becoming responsible gun owners. One of the things they learn during training is that firing a deadly weapon exposes them to civil and criminal prosecution regardless of the reason for doing so. The only justification for aiming a weapon at another human is that you believe you or someone else is at risk of being killed or suffering grave bodily harm. Their judgment as to that circumstance will be questioned. They will surely have to defend their decision in court. Responsible gun owners have a lot to lose and thus take their responsibility seriously. Based on experience, we have much to fear from criminals with guns and almost nothing to fear from the licensed individual. In fact, those licensed for conceal carry provide an additional level of security—security that could one day save your life or the life of someone close to you.

In spite of the potential benefit the licensed individual provides, fear of guns in anyone’s hand has led some businesses to adopt a no guns on the premises policy. However, a company’s right to bar guns has limits as Steve Collins humorously explains below:

“Hey, Harlan, I heard Louise has got a shiny Colt Detective 38 Special locked up in her trunk.  She's always pushing the rules.  There are no guns allowed on company property.  I've had it with Louise.  This is it.  I'm firing her."
Wait, wait don't do it.  In 2014 Tennessee passed Tennessee Code Annotated 39 17 1313, commonly referred to as the "guns in trunks law."
Since Louise has a proper Tennessee carry permit and since her Colt Detective 38 Special is locked up in her trunk, she is protected by the law.  The law allows Louise to transport and store her gun in her vehicle.  That law applies to the company parking lot.   All Louise has to do is be on the property legally, be parked legally, and her have her gun and ammunition 'kept from ordinary observation'.  A gun locked in the trunk is 'kept from ordinary observation'.
Also if Harlan does fire Louise she can bring a lawsuit against the company charging that her statutory right to have her gun locked in her trunk has been violated and she can in turn seek and receive damages from the employer including her attorney fees and litigation costs and she can get an injunction prohibiting her employer from violating that law and taking an adverse employment action against her.  These remedies for Louise are provided for in Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. The result is that an employer of any size is now prohibited from discharging or taking an adverse employment action against its employee in Tennessee 'solely' for being in compliance with 'guns in trunks'.
Be aware and wait, wait don't do it.  Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. Became effective July 1, 2015.

For more WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT advice to employers check other Steve Collins post at http"//spicefirm.com/news.html.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.