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Palmer & you

Tom_Black_Palmer

Tom Black

Entrepreneur - Wine collector
Los Angeles
American Dream. Born into a poor Kansas family, he’d distinguish himself in sales, and create a prosperous banking equipment company. An ever-evolving career with one constant – a love of wines, and one of the most renowned collections in the USA.

What sparked your interest in wine?

My job in fact! In 1984, when I was sales manager for the Southwestern Company in Nashville, my boss asked me to learn about wine and food. I knew nothing at the time, and sales involves a lot of entertaining - professional lunches and dinners. The person who knows about the wine is in control of the table. As a salesperson, I want to be in control, and to be respected by my potential customers. So, I learned how to control doing business at the table. It started a lifetime passion. In 1986, I began my wine collection.

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How extensive did your collection become?

At one point, I had nearly 60,000 bottles of wine. Now it’s closer to 15,000.  Primarily Bordeaux, which has been my favourite since 1995, for its consistency and complexity. But also, Champagne, Burgundy, Barolo, older California Cabernet, Rhone wines, Tuscany wines and Spanish reds… I never put a bottle in my cellar with the thought of reselling it. My decision to collect wine was based on the idea wine improved with age. I buy wine to be shared, and I have conducted some of the greatest tastings on the planet!

Are you still learning about wine?

Of course!  I continually learn about wine. The only way to buy old vintages and make intelligent decisions is to read specialized magazines and books, and to attend tastings. That’s how I decided to buy the 2000 Bordeaux now, for example, which are fantastic in my opinion. I continue to learn through my collaborations with Jim Clendenen as well. At his estate in Santa Barbara County, every year since 2001 we’ve made three barrels of wine together, we then donate it to charities for auction. Anyone can learn to appreciate wine. I recommended starting by thinking about wine as just another part of a dish - white, rosé or red, wine is designed to enhance a meal. If you’re new to wine, start with one region you like best somewhere in the world, and then move on to another region.

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“Palmer is a well-known Château
One of the greatest in Bordeaux
Once it touches your lips
Your lips will write quips
And you’ll want to go to Margaux!”

Tom Black, Entrepreneur - Wine collector, Los Angeles

Tom_Black_Palmer

In terms of this region, could you tell us about your relationship with Château Palmer?

I feel a special connection to Palmer, this Margaux estate so adept at finding a way through difficult years. For example, 2001 and 2004 are not great vintages in Bordeaux, but they are at Palmer. I have three Château Palmer tasting memories which I’ll never forget: the first is from 1996, when I tasted the 1982 Palmer. My best Palmer moment was a comprehensive tasting of over 40 vintages of Palmer from my cellar. But the 1961 Palmer I tasted at the Château in 2016 comes in a close second. I love writing little poems, and tasting Palmer makes me speak in verse!
"Palmer is a well-known Château
One of the greatest in Bordeaux
Once it touches your lips
Your lips will write quips
And you’ll want to go to Margaux!"