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Vol. 17 No. 13 - January 11, 2017

FEATURE

Once in a lifetime

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

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Last week, I was lucky enough to have an experience that I would like to share with all of you, but first a little background. As many of you remember, we held wine tastings at the Waterfront for many years. Every Thursday evening we would bring in a vendor and pick a theme for the night, usually six wines from a given region or timed with a holiday. We would ask the chef to pair hors-d'oeuvres with the given wines for everyone's enjoyment.

We were able to taste and learn about a lot of wines over the years. We had a lot of regular clients who became friends with us and each other during that time. One of these people, Larry, and his wife, Deb, became good friends.

One year, Larry was gracious enough to extend to me an invitation to his home in Georgia for a Super Bowl tasting. Each year he and a group of his buddies, all wine enthusiasts and collectors, would each bring a special bottle for a blind tasting, and they would all vote for their favorites. It became a special night for the guys to win bragging rights for the year.

I found a 20-year-old barolo to bring with me and bought my plane tickets. I couldn't wait. Fate, however, had different plans. The week before the tasting, I had an accident which prevented me from going to the event. I was devastated.

Fast forward to 2016. I received a phone call a couple of months ago from Larry saying that he will be coming down to the Island in March with his friend, Jeff, who happens to be one of his Super Bowl collector buddies. He wanted to know if I'd be interested in having a belated tasting to make up for the one I missed years ago. The only problem was I'd have to find some friends to help taste with us as they were bringing eight special bottles.

Jason and Leah were kind enough to let us set up a beautiful table in the courtyard at the restaurant and with the help of a few friends who joined us, we sat down to the tasting of a lifetime.

We started with a 1990 Dom Perignon, which was absolutely amazing after 25 years in the bottle – toasty rich flavors with plenty of life left and loads of little bubbles in this crisp, dry sparkler.

Next up, a 2006 Guigal Ex Voto Ermitage Blanc from the Northern Rhone in France. Only produced in exceptional years, this creamy giant of a wine lasts up to three decades and is powerful, aromatic and elegant all at the same time.

Following that we had the chance to taste a Mondavi 2004 I Block To Kalon Vineyard Fumé Blanc. This wine is produced with fruit harvested exclusively from this famous vineyard, said to be the oldest sauvignon blanc vines in North America. It had giant flavors of citrus, banana and white pepper that seemed to last forever.

So far so good, but now on to the red wines. First off, a 1989 Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle, said to be one of the world's great wines. Rated 100 points in numerous publications in multiple vintages, this wine is able to last 30-40 years and still be in its prime, and this meaty red was smooth as a whistle. Following this, no easy feat, was a 1999 Beaucastle Hommage de Jacques Perrin. A Chateauneuf du Pape made from 13 different varietals, this stunning wine had loads of silky, ripe fruit flavors.

Next up, a Sandrone Cannubi Boschis Barolo 1985. 100 percent nebbiolo grapes from a single vineyard in the Piedmont is a rarity, and this one didn't disappoint with the power and structure to last for decades more – and it was already 30 years old – amazing!

How can you have a tasting like this without a first growth Bordeaux? You can't, so Jeff brought a 1983 Chateau Margaux from the Medoc. Frequently said to be the most elegant of the first growths as well as from one of the best vintages of the century, it was amazing. It lived up to its reputation of the "iron fist with a velvet glove."

Last, but by no means least, a 1990 Chateau Montelena Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from our own Napa Valley. A blend of grapes from 80 acres of different soils, this resplendent wine was highly concentrated with voluptuous flavors.

You are probably wondering how we could distinguish between all of these spectacular wines – no easy feat. Fortunately, the chef supplied us with a spectacular chefs' board, loaded with charcuterie, breads and cheeses, and Larry also picked up some super offerings from Kelly over at The Olive Oil Outpost. It was amazing to see how the wines interacted with all of the flavors of the dressings, cheeses and meats we had to choose from. I couldn't go to this tasting without contributing something, so I brought along a 1983 Pedro Ximinez Gran Reserva to take care of our sweet tooth for dessert. Whew!

This affair was, without a doubt, a once in a lifetime occasion. I was able to share with some of my best friends some of the most exclusive wines in the world paired with delicious foods – hard to beat that. Thank you Larry, Jeff, Jason and Leah. Until next time...

Chili infused orange marmalade

Ingredients:

• 1Tbs. chopped red jalapeño

• 1 tsp. chili powder

• 1 tsp. sweet paprika

• 1/2 c. orange marmalade

• Pinch of salt

Directions:

Put jalapeño, chili, and paprika in a small mixing bowl with a pinch of salt. Stir and mash with spoon for about 1 minute to work the salt into the pepper. Stir marmalade into mixture. Put into container to store. Makes a wonderful zesty sweet accompaniment for mild creamy cheese. Empowers and emboldens them on a crunchy baguette!

Man of the Year

TIME got to pick one.

I think I can do better.

My pick for Man of the Year is Bob Schweiger.

Bob is 95.

There may be a mathematical formula for wise. Time spent plus experience multiplied by intelligence equals wise.

A guy who has been around a long time and done a lot of interesting things and is smart should be wise.

Bob is that guy.

Bob spent his early life escaping the despicable face of Nazi bigotry. He lost most of his family to the evils of the concentration camps.

Bob's family not only lost loved ones to the death camps, but they were charged for their transportation.

The family members that were taken to Auschwitz were charged for their train fare on the cattle cars.

They were also charged for train fare for the guards that accompanied them.

His lost cousins were charged for one-way tickets. The Nazis charged for two-way tickets for the guards.

When Bob was sixteen part of his immediate family had to bribe their way out of what had become Nazi Austria.

Six years later, he was heading back into Europe on D-day.

Bob's unit was in the second wave at Omaha Beach, the bloodiest beach on D-Day.

He talks sparingly of the what he calls the madness of that day, of flattening himself into the sand while men were being killed all around him.

Bob tells amazing stories of his journey through the war.

He tells his war stories reluctantly, with humility and humor. Bob even has room for compassion for the Germans they fought. The same people who killed his brother and uncles and cousins in concentration camps.

Despite all of his family's suffering and loss, Bob remains a very forgiving person. He tries to understand why the people of Austria gave power the Nazis.

Bob observes that evil people are always out there and that we need to be vigilant and active to keep them from power.

I am embarrassed when talking to Bob that anti-Semitism and bigotry in our country seem to be on the rise again.

My weekly lunches and breakfasts with Bob are celebrations of wisdom. I get the best of business advice and better – the benefit of his life experience.

On happiness,"On any given day you are only as happy as your least happy child."

On in-laws, "You have to be careful to be always kind and loving with them; you don't want your child and their spouse laying in bed at night talking s___ about you."

Bob has been married to Shirley for 75 years. Shirley is a younger woman, a beautiful redhead. She is 94.

When Bob tells some of his jokes and stories Shirley just rolls her eyes.

She has one of the best eye rolls ever. Married to Bob all those years has given her a lot of practice.

I am grateful to Bob as my man of the year for the wisdom and kindness and joy that he and Shirley contribute to my life.

On his 95th birthday last August Bob said to Shirley, "What the hell; lets go for 100."

I hope so.


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