MARQUIS DE LA TOUR—Sacrificed to a turkey

My Fellow Inebriates,

When we changed headquarters this summer, we lost the camera charger.

Dozens upon dozens of boxes have been searched, and it has not turned up.

But if we buy another one, it will turn up immediately. So we haven’t. And therefore it hasn’t turned up.

Where the hell are you?? Where did you go? Did my dad put you in his jacket pocket and then throw away the jacket? Did he insert you somewhere and forget about you? Arrrrghhhhhh!

Meanwhile the camera has lost its charge. This means no more drunken pictures or bear porn for the time being. And while it’s not such a loss in terms of yours truly, whose appearance follows an imperceptible but predictable trajectory from mangy to filthy, the kids in the house are aging, getting taller, growing their hair, losing their teeth. Undocumented.

They may well be teenagers by the time my dad breaks down and buys a new charger. He’ll arrive home with it, having surrendered the battle against Murphy’s Law and finally ponied up at the NCIX counter, only to interrupt Miss P necking on the couch with some scurrilous unworthy kid—because she will be 15 by the time he finally caves in. OMG!! We are dying without that little connector. The children are losing their recorded childhood, not to mention any documentary evidence they might one day proffer to Child Services. This is serious shit.

Surely not? Not in…in there?

It’s almost as awful as when my mum poured an entire bottle of MARQUIS DE LA TOUR over the Thanksgiving turkey. She does this every year, and I always cry when she does it. She says it “makes the gravy,” which seems to neglect the contribution of the gigantic dead bird being baptized by $12 sparkling vino.

Admittedly she did give me an infinitesimal sample before wasting the bottle. My thimbleful (NO PICTURES AVAILABLE) was pale gold with teeny moustache-tickling bubbles. The scent was delicate and pleasing if somewhat simple. On the tongue the bubbles danced with more sweetness than expected. While the flavor was crisp and clean, it nevertheless suggested melons and other fruits that appeal especially to the rapidly maturing kids (NO PICTURES AVAILABLE) who reside at LBHQ. Were one allowed to have a full glass of MARQUIS DE LA TOUR, the sipping would be easy and refreshing.

I don’t honestly think a small swallow of sparkling wine is adequate for a fair tasting, but my parents countered this argument by saying that Robert Parker regularly swishes as many as 50 wines around his gob in quick succession, rendering judgments within 30 seconds. Essentially they called me on my bitching and donated a bottle of perfectly good booze to a dead turkey. And then they said: “You’re lucky we’re not cooking a bear with an apple in its mouth.”

Hello, Child Services?

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M. CHAPOUTIER BILA-HAUT SYRAH/GRENACHE, CARIGNAN (2009)—No, it didn’t have 9 lives; it’s gone

Miss V has no intention of peeing on demand for the doctor trying to confirm a bladder infection. Hence the package that came home today:

Needless to say, I don’t want anything to do with the project of coaxing urine out of a four-year-old into a cup. If, for example, my mum brought me into the bathroom to amuse Miss V, thinking the diversion might keep her on the seat until the pee was secured, I would be very afraid. It’s hard enough for an adult female to pee in a jar without spraying hands, seat, floor and counter. When a four-year-old attempts to do it, you don’t want to be a nearby absorbent bear who’s already under threat of the washing machine.

Because so many symptoms suggested a bladder infection, the doc prescribed an antibiotic anyway. If he doesn’t get Miss V’s pee, the exact microbes won’t be known, but they’ll get exterminated anyway. If he does get the pee, bonus. Within a week Miss V should be cured of her tummy aches and pungent excretions.

This latter symptom got me thinking about wines with a urine aroma. In particular I remembered our Easter dinner wine, suggested by a wine consultant other than our usual go-to. On learning of my parents’ preference for full-bodied, supple reds, he pointed to M. CHAPOUTIER BILA-HAUT (2009), a Syrah/Grenache/Carignan blend. His recommendation wasn’t exactly on the money. (He did disclaim that French wine wasn’t his area of expertise.)

True, BILA-HAUT poured rich and purple into the glass, exuding distinctive earthy fragrance and fruit-forward promise. Blended for ideal acid balance and drinkability, it seemed like a good dinner choice.

The first sips were curious—slightly more acidic than suggested by the aroma, and slightly lighter on the palate than suggested by the legs. The wine had a thinness to it that fruit bomb enthusiasts tend to avoid, but one has to have an open mind.

On to the next sips.

While Grenache typically has a soft, static character and doesn’t develop much as the wine opens, a Grenache blend is a different animal. The Syrah component in BILA-HAUT kicked up the spice and contributed an earthy wildness; the Carignan added tartness and zing. But during that critical first 15 minutes while the wine breathed and I had to be held back physically from it, the fragrance changed. The shift wasn’t subtle. First the scent was a maddeningly unplaceable brambly fruitiness, and then it was…wet cat. From wet cat it morphed to cat pee, at which point my dad abandoned his glass on the counter.

Mum and I persevered with BILA-HAUT, although for most of dinner she left her glass untouched, then returned to it while she loaded the dishwasher. I kept at it the whole time, so I can document for you, my fellow inebriates, the delicacy of its arc from fruit to sodden alleycat to litter-box offering to…fruit again.

Yes, peeps, the wine did become drinkable. It just had to go through a nasty olfactory phase. We all go through phases, some of which are olfactory too. Ever decide you were no longer going to shower? Or that deodorant was for losers? Okay, maybe you didn’t do those things. But remember the hair you had in the 1980s? Phases! Some phases are just ugly. And BILA-HAUT certainly went through one of these while the family was stuffing itself full of ham. For a while it smelled rank. But I swear to you that after an hour it was okay. And it was even better the next day.

So what the hell makes a wine smell like feline number one? Interesting, the chemical compound responsible for that unique cat-piss odor is often present in wine, particularly Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The offending compound, p-mentha-8-thiol-3-one, smells like kitty tinkle only in a specific concentration range, below which it smells herbal and above which it smells like blackcurrants. Wow!

So that explains how our Easter wine began dinner delightfully redolent of berries, survived being consumed at dinner by assaulting us with puss ‘n’ piss, then redeemed itself as dry, tannic and slightly herbal.

Which is pretty cool and scientific, but it won’t help us get Miss V to pee in a cup.