ESCORIHUELA 1884 RESERVADO MALBEC (2009)

My Fellow Inebriates,

I’ve been really caught up with ebay since I decided to bid on a painting yesterday. It’s easy to set up an ebay account, but let’s face it, I’m a bear, so I have no idea how to conduct myself in an auction.

I put my bid in yesterday, and it immediately went up 50 cents. OMG! So I raised my bid by 50 cents. Again! Another 50 cents! And again! Somebody wants the same painting I do, and very badly.

A new Barack Obama & Penelope the Unicorn painting, celebrating this most special season. This unique piece of art also features Baby Jesus in a manger, who is visibly overwhelmed by the unexpected display of reverence. This original painting is certain to become a family heirloom for the lucky bidder; unpacked with reverence each holiday season and displayed in a position of honor. - Artist Dan Lacey

Just then my dad walked by and yanked me off the computer. He told me somebody has an automatic bid in there, and that if I sit with my paw on the bid button, five days before the auction closes, I will just drive up the price unnecessarily, because no matter what I enter, my opponent will automatically raise me 50 cents (up to whatever his/her max is, which I can’t possibly know). Whoa! I had no idea.

Maybe this is what comes of art shopping while sky-high drunk.

But isn’t that what all art connoisseurs do? Don’t they stagger around art galleries whisking champagne glasses off omnipresent waiters’ trays, ready to splurge on objets d’art? Isn’t that what wealthy, cultivated people do?

My mum said yes, it is what they do. However, she added, the terms “wealthy” and “cultivated” have never before turned up in the same sentence as “Liquorstore Bear,” so it’s sort of moot.

I was bored out of my furry head and anxious to boot about whether I would ever possess this painting. So I figured I’d drink a bottle of malbec.

My last tango with an Argentine wine was the Escorihuela 1884 Reservado Syrah, a thoroughly enchanting wine. I’ve been wanting to try S.A.E.V. Eschorihuela’s other varietals, starting with the malbec, but for ages I couldn’t get my mum to buy it. That’s because she once had a bad malbec experience with some Marcus James back before she became middle-aged, and has ever since associated malbec with gouda and feet.

I love exotic aromas and tasting notes, so this just intrigued me all the more, and finally we bought the ESCORIHUELA 1884 RESERVADO MALBEC. Would it smell like feet, I wondered?

Malbec is a pissy varietal, prone to rot and basically the sort of grape that drives vintners to consider setting the whole vineyard on fire. A good malbec is hard-won,  full in the mouth, plummy and purple, bursting with fruit.

We pulled the cork and poured the wine into Reidel stemless glasses. I think we should have decanted it, but we were too lazy. “Breaking Bad” was at a season-end cliffhanger and we wanted to start drinking right away. “Breaking Bad” has some seriously nasty scenes in it, and I wanted to get good and drunk before I saw anybody get waxed with a shotgun.

My dad has this client who often skips the decanting stage too; he just puts his wine in the blender. If I weren’t scared of the Cuisinart I would have done that with this wine, because it benefited by opening up, and probably needed more time than I was willing to give it.

Fresh cherries hit me with the first sniff, an earthy chorus of purple fruit playing back-up. The wine had a parching dryness and fierce tannins  from eight months’ ageing in American and French oak barrels. The mouthfeel was big and concentrated. And the good news: I couldn’t detect either feet or cheese.

At 13.7% I didn’t expect this malbec to be such a creeper, but it got me really loaded—so much so that I almost returned to the computer to make another bid on my painting. Luckily I passed out instead.

It’s not Christmas without unicorns

My Fellow Inebriates,

I am giddy with excitement right now because—for perhaps the first time ever—I desperately want something that has nothing to do with alcohol.

It’s true!

I know it seems implausible. The quest for liquor completely dominates this bear for the most part, but every once in a while something cuts through the alcoholic miasma—something so sublimely beautiful that it gives me back my perspective.

Let me back up. I haven’t been feeling very festive. We put up the Christmas tree yesterday (three parts, stackable, lights included, plug-in-and-presto, instant Xmas), and—sigh—the middle part didn’t light up. The lights are in series, so when one goes kaput, the rest fail to light up, and no one felt like going through them all one by one to find the culprit.

My Christmas spirit was in the toilet.

So I started thinking about ways to cheer up. My alcohol inventory was just about exhausted (Santa??), and with the Backyardigans blaring all over the house, holiday music would have been a cacophonous choice. I decided to look for a nice Christmas picture, something serene and lovely.

As I surfed the web, I was thinking about red wine. Whenever I think about Christian holidays I think about wine, because Jesus made wine and also drank it. But I was thinking especially about malbec and ruminating that Jesus had missed out on malbec because I don’t think that varietal was available in his ‘hood. I don’t know if he knew about Argentina. I mean, he knew everything, so I guess he must have known about Argentina, but maybe he never really thought about it—who knows?

And then I saw a painting! A beautiful painting.

I’d never noticed art before. But this—this was transcendent. This awakened my emotions and enlivened my alcohol-deadened senses. I felt, truly, that by gazing on this beautiful painting, perhaps I could find proper happiness—the kind of joy you get from contemplating beautiful things, and not the temporary anaesthetic of a gin bottle.

And then it struck me: the painting was for sale on ebay.

I told my mum I had found something beautiful. She gave me this weird look 😐

I told her it was a painting and asked if we could bid on it. She said 😯 She said we needed to save money for the holidays so the kids can have gifts and we can have a turkey and maybe some wine, and was that last thing not one of our shared priorities?

I said yes, yes, but look. My mum was busy doing something, so she didn’t look at the painting.

I said, When have I ever asked you for anything???

She said ARE YOU F#CKING KIDDING ME? 🙄

I was bereft. She kept on sorting laundry.

And I started to cry. 😥

And then she must have caught a wisp of holiday spirit, because she put down the skid-marked Disney Princess underwear she was holding and went to look at the painting.

A new Barack Obama & Penelope the Unicorn painting, celebrating this most special season. This unique piece of art also features Baby Jesus in a manger, who is visibly overwhelmed by the unexpected display of reverence. This original painting is certain to become a family heirloom for the lucky bidder; unpacked with reverence each holiday season and displayed in a position of honor. - Artist Dan Lacey

And she agreed with me. We must have it.

I almost hesitate to tell you guys about it because we did it—we got ourselves an ebay account (it was easy!) and now we’re in a bidding war. And I’m so scared that somebody with more money might wrest it away from us. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I’d understand, because I can’t imagine anyone not coveting the painting.

The bidding war is on, people. Fa la la la la la la la la!