ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2011)—Now your liver can handle it

My Fellow Inebriates,

I’ve been waiting a long time for technology to catch up to my drinking. So when I saw this new bioprinter that manufactures functional liver tissues, I knew my ship had come in. And probably yours, too, my fellow inebriates, with your complicated “real biological organism” livers that are no doubt being pummeled senseless by CUERVO.

bioprinter can print a new liver for me

Goodbye HP, hello NovoGen MMX Bioprinter. Photograph by Timothy Hogan.


The best part is that LBHQ is in the market for a new printer anyway. Two days ago our HP started blinking. After ascertaining it had plenty of ink, Dad jiggled the cartridges around to make sure it knew it had ink, but the bloody thing kept flashing until we looked up the error code and learned it needs a new print head. And given the disposable nature of electronics these days, I thought, well, why not put this wretched HP on the curb and get ourselves a new bioprinter? If the thing can print liver tissue, it probably does a freaking awesome job on ordinary office documents, right? Win win.

And the third win? We can drink more ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2011) knowing our livers have a back-up plan sitting in the office.

But wait a sec. What the hell are bioprinters, and are they for real? I’ve had my chain yanked before, people, so let’s look into it.

Judging by venture capitalists’ enthusiasm for them, bioprinters are the real deal. The printers layer bioink onto biological scaffolds that allow it to be shaped into blood vessels, ears, synthetic hamburgers, urethras—you name it, MFI. The technology is really complicated—maybe more so than our defunct HP’s, and certainly too complicated for an idiot bear to understand. So I gave the marketing materials to my dad, who makes all the LBHQ electronics purchases. You see, I can’t just say: “Dad, go and buy us a bioprinter so we can produce crisp documents and filtration organs.” He has to do the reading himself, so it can be his idea. All I can do is put a bug in his ear.

Meanwhile, our livers are crying out for this thing. ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON contains 13.5 percent alcohol and, with its dark berry redolence and mouth-filling depth, you try stopping me from finishing the bottle.

alamos_cab_webALAMOS benefits from decanting. Once swished and swirled it releases a concentrated burst of dark fruit and earthiness and perhaps a little leather. The color is deep purple. Tasting notes from our local booze shop insist that it’s medium-bodied, but—and perhaps we’ve just been drinking lighter wines lately—ALAMOS knocked our socks off with its palate-coating mouthfeel. The tannins are firm, you get oak and chocolate plus hints of tobacco in the background, and the finish is lengthy and satisfying. Damn fine for $14.99.

So my thought was: let’s pound as much of this stuff as we can. Within the week we’ll have a new bioprinter—i.e., an unlimited supply of livers, ears, and urethras if we need them. Now we can drink without worry.

TRIVENTO AMADO SUR WHITE WINE (2012)—Good, but not quite good enough for V’s teacher

My Fellow Inebriates,

Once a month each kid in V’s kindergarten class gets to be the Special Helper. What the Special Helper’s tasks are we’re not sure; all we know is that Special Helper Day is not to be missed. It’s the one day of the month on which V will spring from bed, choose her very best outfit, cooperate all morning, and voluntarily leave the house at 8:15 without thinking of some dramatic objection at 8:14.

Special Helper Day requires some prep, which V does without urging. The Special Helper carries a Mystery Bag, preferably decorative or fancy. Into this bag goes a Mystery Object of the Special Helper’s choosing, along with a sheet of paper.

mystery bag blank

V didn’t decide until the morning of her Special Helper Day what she would put in the bag. Or at least she didn’t mention what she had in mind. But she had the bag chosen and the sheet filled out within five minutes of waking. In the past she’s brought her bead collection, her Chihuahua, various rocks, bugs—that kind of thing. For V, a found object is the best kind of Mystery Bag item, so we should have known she’d select the special piece of tree branch she’d found a couple of weekends before in Campbell Valley Regional Park. That’s what went in the bag this time.

It was 8:14, a time V has the uncanny ability to intuit each morning despite a nebulous understanding of clocks—a time Mum fears because it so often occasions some kind of hissyfit about hair-brushing or boots or which jacket fits which weather, and so on. So when Mum saw the Mystery Bag item she just sighed and went with it. Anything to get out the door.

mystery bag filled in

That’s a “g.”

So… the reason V likes the tree branch she put in the bag so much is that it’s shaped like a gun. When V first found the branch she went nuts for it and thereafter fought with P and two friends for possession of it throughout the day. P and V don’t have any toy guns, so the tree-branch gun was a huge find for them.


If Mum had any qualms about delivering V to school with a gun, she did her best to be preemptive. “Hope this isn’t controversial,” she said to V’s teacher as V handed the bag over.

“Now I’m intrigued,” said Mrs. R.

And Mum beat it out of there. We forgot about the gun until 2:30, when V emerged from class (Special Helper always leaves first.) She was beaming. Whatever the hell they do on Special Helper Day, it must be freaking amazing.

“How was your Special Helper Day?”

“It was awesome!”

“Did the kids like the Mystery Bag item?”

“Yes,” V said. “Except I wasn’t allowed to play with it.”

Fair enough. Mum’s not a total twit. Taking a gun to school—even a tree-branch gun—is pretty tasteless, and if the only downside was that V couldn’t play with it, and the rest of her Special Helper Day was still awesome, then Mrs. R is pretty awesome too. A more officious teacher might have sent V to the office, arranged a parent-teacher meeting to discuss the gun, or even confiscated it. But if what V describes is accurate, at the moment V pulled the gun out of the Mystery Bag, Mrs. R had to stifle a laugh.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We should buy Mrs. R a bottle of TRIVENTO AMADO SUR TORRONTES/VIOGNIER/CHARDONNAY (2012),” I said. “It has the rich lushness of Argentina’s signature white wine grape with playful Viognier tartness and disciplined Chardonnay structure.”

Trivento amado sur torrontes“Nope, not good enough,” Mum said. “Mrs. R’s getting CUMA.”

Well, kick me in the nads, I thought the CUMA was for us. But Mum’s right—the TRIVENTO AMADO SUR isn’t good enough for Mrs. R. Sure, it’s a tasty wine but it’s not quite as luscious and enveloping as CUMA. Its small percentages of Viognier and Chardonnay, while strategic, nonetheless operate against the hedonistic fruitiness of the Torrontes, reining it in if you will. If you’re not a complete hedonist, you might appreciate this. This wine has excellent structure and acidity, notes of mango, melon, and jasmine, and a lingering finish. It leaves you, somehow, wanting more—a little more lushness and depth, and more follow-through on the fragrance. Not a disappointment, but not quite in the same league as CUMA.

Incidentally, by the time I finished writing this, my mum and her friend L had polished off the whole bottle of TRIVENTO AMADO SUR. Holy crap, my fellow inebriates, they really sneaked it past me. L is the friend whose kids accompanied P and V when they found the tree-branch gun in the park. L finds me creepy but says: “At least you don’t have button eyes.” To which I respond: “At least I didn’t let my kid take a gun to school.”

VIŇA CHELA RESERVE (2011)—Kick-ass intensity for those intense days we have sometimes at LBHQ (or just read about in the news)

Not one, not two, but THREE friends posted this on my Facebook wall today.

shepherd kills bear

Which, when you think about it, is actually kind of threatening.

When I first saw it I immediately went looking for my friend Scarybear. Not that he’s been known to venture into Bosnia-Herzegovina—or even off the couch—but I was concerned.

It took a bit of a search, but then, sure enough, there he was under the couch, wearing a dress.

"I will kill you if you post that photo, LB."

“I will kill you if you post that photo, LB.”

Which calls for wine, don’t you think? A palpable threat has been evaded. Oh, come on, just because we don’t always like Scary, it doesn’t mean we want him to be dead. Let’s have some vino.
vina chela

VIŇA CHELA RESERVE (2011) is an organic Argentine Malbec vinified from high-altitude grapes from the foot of the Andes. According to the bottle notes, the grapes were harvested early in the morning, then cold-macerated for three days at temperatures not exceeding 10°C to achieve optimal extraction. Then the wine was aged for seven months in French and American oak.

What the hell does all that mean, my fellow inebriates? Cold maceration, also known as the “cold soak method,” was originally introduced for Pinot Noir in an effort to get the finicky grapes to pony up max flavor instead of delivering half-assed astringent wine. Cold soaking proved successful for Pinot, and winemakers followed suit with other varietals, thereby capturing deeper color and elusive aromatics plus higher-quality tannins.


At the very least, letting your grapes sit around at low temperature for a few days allows you to establish their chemistry and see what kind of sugars they’re going to surrender. The downside is you risk some spoilage and rogue fermentation, but cold soakers still swear by the method. Not that the science is precise—adherents’ reasons for cold soaking vary widely. Perhaps, they argue, certain qualities can be extracted best before the sugar develops into ethanol. Results claimed include increased flavors and aromas; higher complexity; more weighty mouthfeel; more intense color; and a higher-quality tannic profile.

But the jury’s still out on cold maceration. To date, few studies have been done. And although I urged my parents to run out and buy an Argentine Malbec that hadn’t been cold-macerated (as a control), they only commented that my alcohol-seeking ploys were getting more creative. Kudos, but no additional wine.

VIŇA CHELA RESERVE it is, then. Not very scientific of us to drink one bottle only, but oh well. Decanted, it looks like dark purple ink, dense and inviting. Off the top you get intense dark fruits and spice with a little bread yeast and cocoa. Not for the faint of heart (and 14% alcohol), VIŇA CHELA RESERVE coats the palate with a concentrated burst—thick and chewy and ripe. As it sits on the tongue it reveals bittersweet chocolate and herbaceous hints beneath buckets of black fruit. This wine is huge, people. Whatever S.A.E.V. Escorihuela did to extract this much fruit, it worked and then some.

And the best part? The bottle was $14. This Malbec is another great find, my fellow inebriates, so try and get your paws on it. If you are a bear, you will need someone with opposable thumbs to help you, which will put you in their debt, which sucks, but it’s better than being strangled by a Bosnian shepherd.

That's what you get for taking on a bear.

Scarybear says: “You just try coming to Canada.”