Morning with the new bear:

Noon with the new bear:


Dinner with the new bear:


Bedtime with the new bear:


It doesn’t stop. The kid is on all the time. Where he keeps his stash I hate to think, but he is electric, nonstop a-go-go. We’re ignoring his “Mr Bean” nametag and calling him “Speedy.” He is a total freak.

Not even a bottle of MONTES CLASSIC SERIES CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2011) slowed Speedy down. You’d think, at 14% alcohol, that it might have subdued him slightly, but no.

montes-classic-series-cabernet-sauvignon-colchagua-valley-chile-10122464The wine turned out to be another example of a wine that really should be decanted. Moreover, our bottle was over 25°C when we uncorked it, which unfairly rendered our first sips flabby and unappealing. So we let it breathe and put it in the fridge for an hour. If this bothered Speedy he didn’t let on; he was arcing like a Tesla coil; who knows what electric things he’d smuggled over from the UK in his ass—obviously Nana and Papa had forgotten to scoop them out before presenting him to my mum.

An hour is a really long time to wait, especially without a television show to love, and so we decided to join another party in progress and start watching Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 1. My parents and I were immediately hooked; Mad Men is an alcohol fest, and only Scary felt angered by our TV choice. He hated Mad Men; it did not feature one space ship or pirate or cop or time traveler or drug addict or convict. Scary spent most of the hour farting and trying to provoke Speedy.

montes-classic-series-cabernetBy Episode 2 the wine was ready and it had settled down nicely. MONTES is from Chile’s Colchagua Valley, oaked in American barrels and wafting a chorus of interesting aromas ranging from peppercorn to mint to plum. On the palate it is dry if not parching with oak predominating and the tannins noticeably firm. The finish is boozy and warm, echoing strong oak and some of the stand-out tasting notes, coffee among them. If anything, MONTES’s flavor profile seems a bit crowded—intriguing but somewhat chaotic. Before we cooled the wine to a more drinkable 18°C, these notes seemed offputtingly discordant, but at the lower temperature they played together quite acceptably, especially as the wine continued to open up. MONTES might even be better on the second day, however slim the chance of any wine making it to a second day at LBHQ.

The bottle notes also suggest MONTES as a candidate for mid-term cellaring (another slim chance at LBHQ where the booze dollars are spoken for in the here and now, thank you very much). But it would be intriguing to see what another year or two would do for MONTES.

As for Speedy, who knows what a year or two at LBHQ will do. I expect him to still look like this:


But at least we might get used to him by then.


As soon as I said Fluffy Bear’s paranormal activities had ceased, I knew it was a mistake. Sure, he’d been staring blankly at the wall for weeks without incident. Sure, the bumps in the night had settled into the normal noises of a 30-year-old house. But you never want to take the occult for granted.

I could kick myself for saying Granny had departed Fluffy’s body. Of course she hadn’t; the two of them must have been hibernating. Because as soon as I posted it, our television died. With one psychic zap, Fluffy annihilated our plasma, and now we have no TV.


You are so dead, LB.

Scarybear is devastated. Television is his whole life, and naturally he’s pissed at yours truly for foolishly saying Fluffy had gone dormant. Of course he hadn’t!! If anything he was saving up his telekinetic powers. Who knows—maybe it was Fluffy who broke the dishwasher in October, and he just needed to recharge so he could attack the TV.

You never want an animal like Scary mad at you, so I offered him some ERRAZURIZ ESTATE RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC (2012). To this he made a politically incorrect limp-wrist gesture, and then kicked my ass. Scary isn’t very enlightened.

DSCN2986Too bad for Scary. This Chilean wine is crisp and zingy with hints of tropical fruit and sharp green apple. Produced from grapes grown in the Aconcagua Valley, a region thought for many years to be unsuitably hot, ERRAZURIZ proves naysayers wrong with its elegant and substantial (13.5%) Sauvignon Blanc. In perfect character for the varietal, ERRAZURIZ would be refreshing on a hot summer day or when you’re sweating after an ass-kicking. It disappeared very quickly at LBHQ.

Would we buy it again, though? It’s light, it’s zingy…but Scary may accidentally be right about it being too airy and bright—at least in winter. It’s certainly worth noting for when the hot weather comes.

As for Fluffy, he’s getting no wine. Seriously, he likes TV. The dishwasher he may not have given a crap about, but TV?? Breaking Bad? What the hell, Fluffy?


My Fellow Inebriates,

When the water hose came out today, we bears hid. I don’t know where the other animals went, but I’m currently hanging out beside an empty wine bottle of SIBARIS RESERVA ESPECIAL CARMENERE (2010). Named for the ancient Sybarites who sought pleasure to the highest heights, this wine was my parents’ contribution to our weekend tastings. Sandwiched that evening between a glorious cask-aged beer and a brown ale that hit all the right notes, SIBARIS had a tough go. One of its only advantages was that, being wine rather than beer, it would not have to endure apples-to-apples comparison.

Another assist came from a palate-bashing meal my mother inflicted on everyone just as we switched from grain to grape. This effectively reset everyone’s tastebuds, giving SIBARIS a chance to shine. How did it fare?

We were all in the mood for a big, mouth-filling wine. Carmenere, the signature grape of Chile, is often used as a blending grape because, while it’s full and lush, it lacks the tannic profile of Cabernet and has low acidity. But with careful vinification this varietal can rock a wine bottle all by itself, and that’s what we’ve been seeing increasingly at our neighborhood booze shop.

Perhaps my dad had an inkling that SIBARIS would only just live up to its $16 price tag. “We’re gonna let this one breathe in the glass,” he said, dumping it into Reidel stemless ware. Immediately the wine released juicy black plum and spice aromas. Despite not having decanted it, my dad let it sit awhile before tasting, but you know how alcoholics are—I dived in at once. Medium-bodied and plump on the palate, SIBARIS delivered flavor to the palate exactly as promised to the nose: intense yet accessible, easy to drink and yet not perfectly behaved. “Spunky,” said my mother, and Christine confirmed it was a “little barnyardy.”

Now, the barnyard is not always a negative, and this case SIBARIS walks a fine tightrope, albeit not entirely smoothly. SIBARIS is more than earthy; somewhere in its fruity, berry background is a persistent hint of gaminess. But just a hint. A terribly slight hint. In fact, if no one ever mentioned spunk or barnyardiness or caca, SIBARIS might have come and went without a hiccup. But once the suggestion was out, it was out, and we all detected a faint whiff of copros in the distance.

Still, for fifteen bucks this is a very decent wine. No one’s glass was left half-finished—despite the beckoning of a Shiraz Christine brought over in her canvas bag, which, an hour later, would completely trounce SIBARIS. But there are a lot of very nice $16 wines out there, so this one probably won’t be a repeat purchase at LBHQ.

Five days after drinking it, the empty bottle smells pretty darn good. Let’s just hope the empty patch is a good hiding place from the kids.