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Archive for ‘Tony Aspler’s ebook’

Vino in Vegas

Posted by Debbie

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Ever been to Las Vegas?  Peruse this chapter of Tony Aspler‘s new ebook – The Five Minute Wine Book for a treasure-trove of wine facts in the gambling capital of the universe!

Tony Asplers 5 Minute Wine BookLas Vegas is living proof that nothing succeeds like excess. It’s a city that looks as if it was designed by architects high on speed and obsessed with numbers. But then numbers is what Las Vegas is all about – at the gaming tables and in the record books.

The self-styled ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’ has a population of two million inhabitants. Last year it played host to 47 million visitors. There is no escaping the fact that you are here to gamble. Just to drive home this imperative you’re confronted with banks of slots at the airport – even before you’ve picked up your luggage.

The epicentre of this gambling activity is The Strip, a demented 6.8 kilometer stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South which is technically outside the city limits. Here you will find fifteen of the world’s twenty-five largest hotels that can offer you your choice of 62,000 rooms.

The Strip is aptly named because when I was walking it in November I was hustled every ten paces by men and women thrusting cards of naked women into my hands. These merchants of flesh wore green T-shirts emblazoned with the words, ‘Girls, Girls, Girls. Delivered To Your Room in 20 minutes.’  (I refrained from asking them if that claim was not honoured did the girls come free – like Domino  pizzas?)

As with most hotels along The Strip, the Mandalay Palace has its own wedding chapel which, I guess, is a necessary service since there are, on average, 315 weddings a day in Las Vegas. (The city doesn’t offer statistics on divorces). But more importantly, for my predilection, this hotel is home to what is arguably the most dramatic wine cellar in the world. Located in Charlie Palmer’s Aureole restaurant, it houses more than 50,000 bottles of wine. Imagine a glassed-in, stainless steel tower rising to the height of a four-storey building. It features, among other vinous treasures, all five First Growth Bordeaux from the 1900 vintage and verticals of Châteaux Palmer, Margaux, Léoville Las Cases and Lafite. Add to this, California offerings such as Caymus, Beaulieu, Dunn, Chateau Montelana, Joseph Phelps and Silver Oak dating back to the 1970s and extensive verticals of the world’s most coveted producers such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Gaja, Penfold’s Grange and Château d’Yquem. But what completes the spectacle are the ‘wine angels.’  Wine angels? Think scantily-clad Victoria’s Secret models wearing harnesses attached to wires that make them appear to fly up the cellar wall to retrieve the bottle you ordered.

A short shuttle bus drive from The Strip you’ll find Rio Suites (3700 West Flamingo Road) which also boasts a gigantic wine cellar. The crown jewel here is a vertical of Château d’Yquem, a bottle from every year between 1855 and 1990. Like everything else in Las Vegas, they’re for sale; the price is two million dollars. And then there’s the bottle of 1800 Madeira that once graced the cellar of Thomas Jefferson at Montebello. Or the bottle of DRC Romanée-Conti 1994 that could be yours for $28,750. Among other curiosities in Rio Suites’ cellar is what was once reputed to be the largest bottle of wine in the world – 27 litres of California s Dry Creek Vineyard Reserve Merlot 1995, the equivalent thirty-six bottles of wine. (That record, incidentally, has subsequently been broken many times. The current champion is a fifteen foot high bottle that contains 1,850 liters of Icewine, produced by Wang Chen Wines in Liaoning, northern China.)

The antidote to Vegas is a 40-minute, mind-clearing helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. The elemental dignity and timeless beauty of these rock formations stand in stark contrast to the Strip’s strident hucksterism and endearing vulgarity. There is a purity and calm in the desert which makes it an ideal place for a wine tasting. Our helicopter touched down on a plateau and seated at a picnic table overlooking the Colorado River I tasted a range of Jacob’s Creek wines with their Australian winemaker, Bernard Hickin.  The only other experience that came close to this was tasting a Wegler Oestricher Lenchen Riesling Spätlese 1976 in a small plane flying over the vineyard that supplied the grapes.

On the way back to Las Vegas we flew over Boulder City, one of two places in Nevada where you can’t gamble (Panaca is the other). Boulder City, 32 kilometers from Las Vegas, was built to house the workers who constructed the Hoover Dam. Gambling here was prohibited when too many man-hours were lost because of the workers gambling and drinking habits.

It’s ironic that there should be a luxury hotel in Las Vegas called The Venetian which is built on the site of the old Sands Hotel. Because Venice is a city you have to visit before you die.  For very different reasons, the same could be said of Las Vegas. This time I came away having lost $9.82 and a corkscrew that was confiscated at the airport.

The Five Minute Wine Book

tony aspler bio 2014Vino in Vegas is one of the many chapters from Tony Aspler’s The Five Minute Wine Book.  Tony has been chasing the grape around the world for 35 years & his wine soaked adventures have amounted to 17 books on wine & food along with 9 fun spirited novels including a series of wine murder mysteries.  Now Tony has distilled his discoveries into short stories in his latest e-book.

A long-time friend of Savvy Company, Tony has provided the entire collection of 90 plus humorous & easy-to-read chapters for us to post & share with you. Love these stories?  Download the full ebook for $5 from:

Amazon
Kobo
Smashwords

And be sure to keep in touch with Tony & his travels by visiting his web site www.tonyaspler.com or follow on Twitter @tonyaspler

‘Once you are bitten by the grape there is no known cure – and no redemption.  You are hooked. I have spent 35 years of my adult life chasing the grape around the world. I haven’t caught it yet and if I ever did I wouldn’t know what to do with it. But the journey, whether to the antipodes or down the QEW from Toronto to Niagara, has been one of infinite fascination with and respect for the men and women who can turn a perishable fruit into a beverage than can live for decades.’ – Tony Aspler

 

Five Minute Wine Book is published by Bev Editions at Smashwords
ISBN: 978-1-927789-39-1
Copyright 2014 Tony Aspler
Cover Image ©iStock.com/SteveGraham

Savvy Company has permission from Tony Aspler to post individual chapters of this ebook. Thanks Tony!

A Fish (& Wine) Story…

Posted by Debbie

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Here’s a fish tale from Tony Aspler’s new ebook – The Five Minute Wine Book. And of course – there’s wine is involved too!

I never cook with anything I wouldn’t drink,” says Art. A pause for reflection and then he adds, “But then I drink anything.”

Tony Asplers 5 Minute Wine BookArt and I are in a boat on Waterbury Lake in Northern Saskatchewan about 200 kilometres from the Northwest Territories border. Our guide Rob is looking disgusted because we’re talking wine and food. He’s used to conversations about tackle, lures, outboard motors and pike as big as one-man submarines.

Rob’s contribution to the culinary discussion is a suggestion that we spray our lures with WD40. The sweetness, he says, will attract the fish. I ask him what was the weirdest thing he has ever used to catch a fish. “I once wrapped a marshmallow in cheesecloth,” he says, “It worked for speckleds.”

Art recalls a guide who welded a hook to a car spark plug and swore by it. Chacun à son gout.

We are on our annual fishing trip, six guys who have fished together for years. We’re looking forward to shore lunch because today Steve is cooking, on an open fire, what he calls Doré Provençale with Linguine.

This is something else that makes Rob and the other guides roll their eyes. Our shore lunches last three hours and involve the ritual consumption of three bottles of wine out of plastic glasses. (With the Doré – a.k.a. pickerel or walleye – we will consume two bottles of Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 1999 and a bottle of Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos 1998.)

With the Cajun Blackened Lake Trout tomorrow we will have a bottle of Pommery Champagne followed by two vintages of Camus Chambertin, 1995 and 1996. Friday’s menu is Chinese style fish with… but I digress.)

Don’t get the idea that we are not serious fishermen. In the eight days at the fishing lodge we will spend eight hours a day on the lake with our rods in the water. We fish for lake trout and walleye and pike and grayling so that we can have gourmet meals in the bush. (It’s catch-and-release with barbless hooks.)

In order to make these annual piscatorial pilgrimages to Canada’s northland happen each of us has our duties. Steve is the quartermaster who brings all the food we need plus the sauces, spices, home-made pâtés, etc. Sam has a great cellar and he brings the wine. Leo makes the Bloody Marys before dinner back at the lodge. He also brings the worms. Harold, who comes up from Sarasota, Florida, brings the malt whisky. Art brings his wife’s fantastic biscotti. And I, well I am the historian/sommelier who records what we eat and what we drink in case there are disputes over the condition of the vintage port which we don’t have at shore lunch but reserve for dinner because we need to decant it.

If future archaeologists dig in Northern Saskatchewan they will be very puzzled indeed. How did New Zealand green lip mussel shells have migrated up here? And corks branded with Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett 2000, Dauvissat Chablis Vaillons 1999 and Highfield Estate Elstree Chardonnay 1996 from New Zealand. They might even find a can that contained lobster. That, along with the New Zealand mussels, frozen scallops and shrimps all went into the bouillabaisse Steve made in a huge wok on the camp fire. Plus, of course, fresh fish we caught that morning. It was as good as anything you’ll find in Marseilles and the entire lodge staff vied to attend that lunch. The accompanying wines were Pommery Champagne, Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos 1996 and Jaboulet Domaine Saint-Pierre Cornas 1998.

When we told a dentist from Chicago who was fishing for pike with his two sons that we had brought up canned lobster for the bouillabaisse he wondered aloud, “Aren’t you guys meant to be roughing it?” Well, yes. After all, the lobster wasn’t fresh.

What, you may ask, are the impediments to drinking fine wine under the Jack pines on rocky, remote islands? Well, there are the bugs and the mosquitoes, so now I know how brides feel on their wedding day. Drinking wine through a bug jacket must be like wearing a veil, but it’s worth it. And I’m here to tell you that Camus Chambertin 1996 goes brilliantly with beer-battered lake trout. And saving your presence, Mr. Riedel, great wines taste just fine out of plastic glasses – but then a fine wine would taste terrific out of a Wellington boot.

Afterthought: this year I hooked the Moby Dick of lake trout. I played him for 45 minutes but he broke my line without me ever getting a glimpse of him. Ah well, there’s always shore lunch.

The Five Minute Wine Book

tony aspler bio 2014A Fish Story is one of the many chapters from Tony Aspler’s The Five Minute Wine Book.  Tony has been chasing the grape around the world for 35 years & his wine soaked adventures have amounted to 17 books on wine & food along with 9 fun spirited novels including a series of wine murder mysteries.  Now Tony has distilled his discoveries into short stories in his latest e-book.

A long-time friend of Savvy Company, Tony has provided the entire collection of 90 plus humorous & easy-to-read chapters for us to post & share with you. Love these stories?  Download the full ebook for $5 from:

 

Amazon
Kobo
Smashwords

And be sure to keep in touch with Tony & his travels by visiting his web site www.tonyaspler.com or follow on Twitter @tonyaspler

‘Once you are bitten by the grape there is no known cure – and no redemption.  You are hooked. I have spent 35 years of my adult life chasing the grape around the world. I haven’t caught it yet and if I ever did I wouldn’t know what to do with it. But the journey, whether to the antipodes or down the QEW from Toronto to Niagara, has been one of infinite fascination with and respect for the men and women who can turn a perishable fruit into a beverage than can live for decades.’ – Tony Aspler

 

Five Minute Wine Book is published by Bev Editions at Smashwords
ISBN: 978-1-927789-39-1
Copyright 2014 Tony Aspler
Cover Image ©iStock.com/SteveGraham

Savvy Company has permission from Tony Aspler to post individual chapters of this ebook. Thanks Tony!

 

Have 5 minutes?

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

‘Once you are bitten by the grape there is no known cure – and no redemption.  You are hooked’.  There is no one who can say this better than our long time friend – Tony Aspler.  These are the first sentences of his new ebook – The Five Minute Wine Book.

Tony has provided us the entire collection of 90+ chapters that are humorous & easy-to-read chapters to post & share with you. Love these stories?  Download the full ebook for about $5 from:

Amazon
Kobo

Smashwords

Every month we will post several Tony’s wine soaked stories – read them here, learn tidbits of trivia about wines & the wine world that will make you dangerous enough at any dinner party or download the entire book onto your tablet or Kindle to read when you have a glass of wine in hand. Tony has so many quick stories…so let’s start at the beginning with the first chapter aptly entitled…

Tony Asplers 5 Minute Wine BookIntroduction

I have spent thirty-five years of my adult life chasing the grape around the world. I haven’t caught it yet and if I ever did I wouldn’t know what to do with it. But the journey, whether to the antipodes or down the QEW from Toronto to Niagara, has been one of infinite fascination with and respect for the men and women who can turn a perishable fruit into a beverage than can live for decades.

As a card-carrying member of Pack Rats Anonymous, I have kept everything I have ever written about wine.   This volume is a selection of those writings that goes back to 1976 when I was working for the CBC in London. The first article I ever wrote was on the subject of champagne; it was commissioned by Robert Fulford, then editor of the late-lamented Saturday Night magazine. I didn’t include that one but you’ll find several pieces about champagne in these pages. Champagne (it’s tautology to say French Champagne) has played an integral part in my own story as the drink of both celebration and commiseration.

If my doctor told me I had to restrict myself to one wine for the rest of my life it would have to be champagne. I was introduced to the delights of the Champagne region by the man who taught me about wine – the late Gordon Bucklitsch who ran the Grant’s of St. James wine school in London in the 1970s. He wrote a book entitled, ‘School for Sommeliers.’ Not only was he my wine mentor but this Falstaffian character became the model for my detective in a series of wine murder mysteries I would write in the subsequent years – ‘Blood Is Thicker Than Beaujolais’, ‘The Beast of Barbaresco’, ‘Death on the Douro’ and the newly-finished, ‘Nightmare in Napa.’

As a wine evangelist, rather than a wine critic, my intention has always been to share with readers my consuming passion. If browsing these pages makes you pull a cork (or twist off a screw top) then I have done my job.  I encourage you to read with a glass in your hand.

Cheers!

Tony

tony aspler bio 2014

 

Keep in touch with Tony & his travels on his web site www.tonyaspler.com or follow him on Twitter @tonyaspler

 

Five Minute Wine Book is published by Bev Editions at Smashwords
ISBN: 978-1-927789-39-1
Copyright 2014 Tony Aspler
Cover Image ©iStock.com/SteveGraham

Savvy Company has permission from Tony Aspler to post individual chapters of this ebook. Thanks Tony!