BERONIA RESERVA RIOJA—Denied. It’s bear abuse, people!

My Fellow Inebriates,

I’ve been sulking.

You would too if you were a bear with the DTs. On Sunday I received this pic:


OMG, look at that, I thought. My parents are sending me a message; they want me to come and share some delicious wine with them.

But I couldn’t find them anywhere. In fact, the house was empty—every window and door shut. Where the hell were they, MFI?

I started to panic. One Direction was not simpering from the living room speakers. The car was gone. Purses and wallets were gone. It was 30°C and climbing at LBHQ. And suddenly here was this cheeky photo, along with several others.

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Calm down, LB.

It’s hard to calm down when your only company consists of panting bears confined on a sweltering day. We were dying, people.


Blackie’s dark coat, he told us, was making him the hottest.

Scary contended his core temperature was the hottest thanks to his imagined 300-kg bulk.

Scary contended his core temperature was the hottest thanks to his imagined 300-kg bulk.

You only had to look at Fluffy to know his thick coat was doing him in.

You only had to look at Fluffy to know his thick coat was doing him in.


And Speedy?

Speedy was wigging out.

Speedy was wigging out.

A quick snoop through my parents’ e-mails told us they were at a 50th anniversary party. Who the hell would invite them to such a thing? Who would invite them anywhere?

Next came a text: tasting notes for BERONIA RESERVA RIOJA (2008).

Intensely concentrated yet nuanced flavors of blueberries, ripe cherries, and deep cocoa with supporting notes of vanilla and oak—perhaps some coconut? Definitely a slow sipper that develops nicely as it breathes. Nice tannins—much more refined than we’re used to at home, LOL. Yummy, yummy wine here, LB, too bad you can’t have some.

OMFG!!! How sincere do those condolences sound, my fellow inebriates??? “Too bad”? Too bad!!

Meanwhile, the butter was doing this.


The thermometer said 34°C now, and my fool parents had forgotten to shut the blinds. The house was cooking, and so were we bears.

The only saving grace was that the kids had put Scary in handcuffs sometime that morning.


Did they know somehow that he’d be getting ornery and need containment? Good kids. Too bad our their parents are such tools.

BARAHONDA ROBLE MONASTRELL SYRAH (2008)—Whatever the hell Labor Day is, this wine should be part of it

In diapers

For bears like me and Scarybear (and lately Fluffy too), Labor Day marks not the beginning of an arduous work cycle but the end of two months of being dragged through the yard, decorated with flowers, festooned with miniature ponies, draped with various dishtowel-cum-frocks (you know what I mean, don’t be dirty)—in short, a laborious summer. We bears don’t care if we can’t wear white shoes after September 3, as long as we don’t have to don any more dresses—at least not before 3 p.m. each weekday. Yes! The kids—both kids—are returning to school, and we bears will be left to hang out and stare at the walls, or whatever you might think we do when nobody’s looking.

In bondage

What the hell does Labor Day signify anyway? Who really has the whole summer off? Nobody at LBHQ had the summer off. Dad worked, Mum worked (here and there), the kids worked on their X-box skills, Scary and I got worked over by the kids, and we all changed headquarters, which was a lot of damn work.

Despite the bear abuse freely countenanced by my parents, I’ll miss summer. The best thing about it was that, as soon as it got hot out, my dad would buy beer. In fact, everything about our summer was a trigger to buy beer. Packing? Beer! Moving? Beer! Unpacking? Beer!

But surely autumn offers equivalent booze-buying triggers. If anything the approach of inclement weather should spur us to polish off the gin, pound any lager occupying the fridge, and welcome heavier, more robust delights like the BARAHONDA ROBLE MONASTRELL SYRAH (2008).

Also known as Mourvèdre, Monastrell grapes are known for producing intensely fruity, tannic, high-alcohol wines that, if not aged correctly, can evince barnyardy notes. The grapes are hard to please, preferring hot sun and high irrigation plus a crapload of viticultural TLC. Monastrell is often blended with Syrah because of the tannic structure it imparts, as with BARAHONDA ROBLE.

Our favorite liquor store consultant hadn’t yet tried this wine; he said it was new to the store. But he did advise pairing it with food—barbecued animal perhaps, or pasta with red sauce. Even though this dude is the full-on maestro when it comes to wine tasting, we decided to ignore his advice. My mother assured him she would cut some cheese, which was a lie, at least in one sense.

At the time of drinking, the kids were on Vancouver Island with their (our) grandparents. The house was very quiet and calm. The mess hadn’t ratcheted up throughout the day. There wasn’t the usual post-bedtime fallout and clean-up. I’d spent the day on the same part of the couch all day, unsummoned for play. It was eerie.

Now, either this weird calmness conjured up some crazy, silvery sensitivity on our palates, or BARAHONDA ROBLE was freaking awesome. Maybe both. Rich maroon in the glass, it demonstrated generous legs as it whispered huskily of blackberries and oaky refinement. Swirled in the glass, those blackfruit flavors concentrated into an olfactory rush, layering on luscious dark fruits.

And the sip? OMG, my fellow inebriates!! Does wine really taste that much better with the kids out of the house or was this wine just that insanely good? Ahhhh, to ever know that, we’d have to buy another bottle and drink it with the kids at home. But yes, this wine is—apologies, Robert Parker—this wine is fucking-A. Crossing the front palate like an old-money guest with an armload of gifts, BARAHONDA ROBLE redoubles the fruit-laden generosity promised to the nose with cherry, dried fruit, and gorgeous minerality. It unloads its parcels in the foyer then charges to mid-palate, still producing gifts—well-integrated oak, rich jam, and deep earthiness. It continues rhapsodically discharging these wondrous flavours, finishing with grippy tannins before depositing its wonderful 14% alcohol in one’s furry tummy.

Was it a sensory orgy? BARAHONDA ROBLE was too disciplined, too structured for that. It stopped just short of that, and just as well. You wouldn’t—couldn’t—get the impression that this wine wasn’t in control of the dance.

What a marvelous under-$20 find from the Spanish wine aisle in our local booze shop. A spectacular summer ender, too, and a product to stock for the coming cold months.

With a product like BARAHONDA ROBLE warming your fur, who needs summer? Labor Day’s arrival is welcome, especially if it occasions another wine purchase.