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.”

MICHEL TORNINO CUMA TORRONTES—Celebrating another Liebster

My Fellow Inebriates,

I was lucky enough to get nominated for another Liebster Award yesterday by the Lords of the Drinks.


It’s been a long time since I was included in one of these awesome award chains—probably because I’m usually too drunk to read a ton of blogs, which makes me a real douchebag as far as the blogging community is concerned. But I do appreciate the nod, and despite already having a Liebster on my mantel, I’m going to treat it like an Oscar and put the new one beside it, with the understanding that I can stockpile as many of these damn things as I want, and the caveat that someday the Academy will hate me for it.

The Liebster comes with 11 highly topical questions formulated by the Lords of the Drinks. Here goes…

  1. What country are you from? CANADA.
  4. What’s your favorite drink? GIN. AND RED WINE. AND BEER. AND SCOTCH. AND RYE.
  5. How many units of alcohol do you approximately drink per week? EIGHT, UNLESS I GET INCREDIBLY LUCKY.
  6. What kind of drunk are you (angry, sleepy, extra-social, horny, dramatic, dancing, etc.)? SOCIAL, EXTROVERTED, AMOROUS, HAPPY, SLEEPY, IN THAT ORDER.
  7. Is there any interesting local drinking custom, ritual, or game that you can share with us? LATELY I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT YUKAFLUX, THE CANADIAN PRACTICE OF FLOATING CHUNKS OF FRUIT IN A COMMUNAL TUB OF HARD LIQUOR.
  8. Describe your most epic drunk night. “MOST”? I WOULD NEVER REMEMBER THE MOST EPIC ONE.
  9. Which drink (or mix) is certain to screw you up? TEQUILA WITH AN ILL-CONSIDERED WHITE WINE CHASER.
  10. Got any tips on how to have a good (drunk) night for little money? STAY AT HOME AND DRINK CHEAP HARD LIQUOR FROM A PLASTIC JUG.
  11. Is there a relatively unknown drink you can recommend us? RECENTLY AN ISLAY GIN HIT THE MARKET. I’M SALIVATING TO TRY IT.
I'd like to thank the Academy, which I hope will note the tasteful way P's kelly-green gown covers my six nipples.

I’d like to thank the Academy, which I hope will note the tasteful way this kelly-green gown (who’s dressing me? why, Miss P, of course…although I am a boy bear, damn it) covers my six nipples so tastefully.

And how do we celebrate our second Liebster? Why, with a gorgeous, aromatic Argentine Torrontés of course. Not only is MICHEL TORINO CUMA TORRONTES (2012) organic; it’s also a bargain at $13.99.

Torrontés is fast becoming my favorite varietal, with its lush, floral aromas and easy drinkability. The name Torrontés actually describes several types of grape, all originating with Muscat of Alexandria and varying in degree of fruity aromaticity. CUMA grapes come from the Cafayate region of northern Argentina, a landscape of dramatic variety situated about 1,700 metres above sea level where Tannat and Chardonnay grapes are also grown with great success.

CUMA torrontesCUMA is on the Consultants’ Choice rack at our local booze shop right now, and for good reason. Generously aromatic with apple, nectar, honey, melon, and spice, its olfactory invitation simply can’t be ignored. Even my dad, after trying a sip from Mum’s my  glass, went to the cupboard for his own glass, then matched me sip for sip until most of the bottle was gone. CUMA goes a step beyond FINCA LOS PRIMOS TORRONTES with an additional layering of flavors, firm structure, and decisive minerality. The finish is middling, so you find yourself going for the next sip sooner than you otherwise might and getting slightly drunk as a result. In other words, all good.

What makes CUMA’s value extraordinary is its organic methodology. Indeed, the word “CUMA” means “clean and pure” in the pre-Incan Aymara language. Michel Torino adopted ecological “zero farming” practices back in the 1990s, using organic material from the soil and weeds to farm the vineyards, thereby minimizing the use of chemicals and fertilizers, and achieving organic certification in 2005.

CUMA’s finesse and sophistication go beyond its modest price. It was the perfect bottle to celebrate a second Liebster, although—let’s face it—once I was half-shitfaced I had no inclination to go through the formalities of passing the torch. Go ahead, call me a dickhead.


1884 RESERVADO MALBEC (2011)—You think you know your kids…

You think you know your kids (I mean, they live at your house) but then you see them in some random elementary school situation and…WTF?

Take five-year-old Miss V. Her last report card said she “continues to be a solitary child,” adding that V often prefers playing alone but will join others if the group dynamics feel right. Monday morning? V insisted there was no one she wanted to play with. Ever. Tuesday? Wouldn’t leave the playground; she was caught up in a group game. This morning? This morning was a WTF.

This coat is awesome in winter.As V entered the schoolyard (wearing a black fur coat from which she won’t be separated despite forecasted highs of 19°C), five boys converged on her, all calling her name. This was delightful; despite having been solitary children themselves, our parents sometimes worry about V’s antisocial streak. “Say hi, V,” Mum encouraged as the boys surrounded her like paparazzi.

But V looked straight ahead and strode through them to her classroom lineup, where she remained, unmoving and expressionless, until the bell rang. WTF?

220px-Buckingham-palace-guard-11279634947G5ruYes, Mum did ask her why she hadn’t acknowledged the boys. But apparently V didn’t feel like acknowledging Mum either. She looked positively military, standing in line staring straight ahead, like a Buckingham Palace Guard whose black fur had morphed out of control.*

Then the door opened and she went inside. Mum stood for a couple of minutes after, looking quizzically into the classroom, unable to see her next interactions.

So we’ll have to observe our little black-furred animal in her environment a little more closely and see what gives.1884Reservado_Malbec

I thought perhaps V’s dust-off would have induced the urge for a drink in our mother, but no luck. Dry weekdays are still in force (and it was 8:30 a.m.). This leaves no choice but to rhapsodize about 1884 RESERVADO MALBEC (2011), a product we shared with company shortly before our mother lost her mind and decided to exhume the women’s temperance movement.

This Argentine red goes for $16.99 at our local booze shop. According to the bottle notes, the grapes are hand-harvested from high-altitude vineyards in the Andean foothills, vinified then aged in fifty/fifty American/French oak for eight months.

As far as liquor store offerings go, this wine is a bit of a sleeper. Parked on the shelf between two other Escorihuela varietals nearly identical labels and prices, you might not notice this one, especially if you’re lurching drunkenly around the store. Escorihuela wines strike me as the straight goods: Old-World techniques brought to the New World with staggering success.

Expectation: a pleasantly fruit-forward bludgeoning. When we did pull the cork, though, the bouquet surprised us. Instead of attacking, the fruit aromas were coy and demure; this Malbec had something to say, but not all at once. The wine exuded black fruit and hints of chocolaty espresso in a way that was somehow disciplined and restrained, like a five-year-old unaccountably marching into class without so much as a glance at her mother. In other words, the aromas amped up our curiosity.

I like decanting suspected fruit bombs so they can off-gas their overexuberance before the first sip, but in this case we had company and I really wanted to get drunk. So into the Reidel glasses it went.

RESERVADO is an inviting rich purple and somewhat leggy. On the palate it’s smooth and dry without being parchingly so. The oak aging imparts a pleasant roundness to the tannins, making for a surprisingly satisfying sipper that’s serious yet thoroughly approachable. There’s a lovely layering of fruit, a sophisticated intensity, and a delectable finish.

“We should probably buy another bottle of 1884 RESERVADO MALBEC and drink it this morning,” I suggested when Mum described V’s behavior. “You know, to make you feel better about being a mother and all.”


 *OMG!!! OMG!!! Holy crap, my fellow inebriates, I just read that those eighteen-inch hats worn by the palace guards are called “Bearskins” and are made from real Canadian (!!!!) bears like my friend Blackie Bear because both the British Ministry of Defence and the British Army have FAILED to find a synthetic alternative to bearskin. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"That's not cool, LB."

“That’s not cool, LB.”