TOMMASI VALPOLICELLA (2010)—Well done, Tom

My Fellow Inebriates,

Mum and I both feel fully justified having a glass of wine (or two) every single night my dad’s away on his corporate team-building week. After all, he’s getting paid to golf. He’ll come back bronzed and well exercised, wined and dined, and, as I pointed out to my mother, no doubt there’ll be strippers and hookers and who knows what else.

Despite this last bit, my mum kiboshed any additional booze spending. LBHQ has some upcoming expenses, including a change of digs, which means we need to sock away some moving money.

When I asked how on earth I would manage without a new wine to review, my mother said, “Well, how did you manage before last October?” I said I didn’t have the same maelstrom of anxieties to contend with back then—the school hadn’t begun scaring us about lice yet, no one had shown me any handbags made of severed teddybear heads, my granny was alive, there wasn’t a haunted bear named Fluffy living in the house (he turned the alarm clock off on us with his mind yesterday and almost made us late, would you believe it?), my nana didn’t have any bionic bits yet, and we weren’t facing a change of headquarters.

“Too bad,” said my mother, “and half these things have nothing to do with you anyway.”

With that I had to scour my furry head to remember a recent tasting. Last time my nana and papa were here they brought over a 2010 Italian Valpolicella by TOMMASI VITICOLTORI, translated “TOM’S WINE.”

Left to my parents’ buying habits and almost Parkerite leanings, Valpolicella is as unlikely to enter LBHQ as, say, a Canadian Pinot Auxerrois. The style—a mixture of Corvina Veronase, Rondinella, and Molinara—is typically light and aromatic with a lower alcohol content. Nana and Papa came away from a 2011 tour of Italy with an appreciation for lighter Italian table wines that can be sipped at length without getting you plastered, and which are often dispensed from giant grocery-store wine machines for about a buck a litre.

I don’t know if TOMMASI VALPOLICELLA is the sort of wine you’d find in an Italian grocery store’s bulk section, but if so, we should pack our bags for that sunny country and stop messing around in Langley.

I suspect my dad’s parents, knowing their son’s preference for big, weighty wines, had some mischief in them when they brought it, and may well have been testing to see if he would dismiss it out of hand. Even the appearance of TOMMASI VALPOLICELLA would worry my dad, with its vibrant ruby clarity and brightness.

When swirled in the glass, it releases a sumptuous fruity bouquet dominated by fresh cherries. Fruit bursts on the palate with lovely acidity and balance. The body is light to moderate without being astringent, and at 12% alcohol TOMMASI VALPOLICELLA won’t land you on your back unless you bogart the whole bottle. For solid-food fans, it would pair nicely with sharp cheese and tomato-based dishes (I imagine).

Predictably my dad had faint praise for Tom’s wine, most likely because he hasn’t acquired a taste for the style. Everyone else thoroughly enjoyed it with dinner (or without, in my case), although—if we’re being honest—my parents and I do prefer heavier wines that get us gooned faster. But it’s always nice not to throw up after a family gathering, isn’t it?

PAUL & PHILIPPE ZINCK PINOT BLANC (2009)—On the agenda, if not P’s Show-and-Tell program

My Fellow Inebriates,

Even though my dad is too cool to tuck me in at night, I miss him when he goes away. So does my mum, although we both agree it benefits our beer inventory.

My dad wasn’t going to share his team-building golf week agenda with the bears but, when I snooped around in his luggage the night before his departure, I found a cheap bottle of Scotch (unopenable), oodles of electronic gadgetry, and no clothes. Either there is another bag (full of who-knows-what goodies) or this week’s team building will be done naked.

I also found a printout of a PowerPoint slide for a presentation my dad’s doing to explain his new role at the company. It has four quadrants:

  1. Current activity
  2. Upcoming activity
  3. Challenges
  4. Opportunities

Like a flash it struck me that I could justify my own activities similarly. Justifying the LBHQ enterprise might get me closer to the bar of my dreams.

These ideas were pinging back and forth between my two brain cells when Miss P proposed taking me to Show-and-Tell. This coaxed my mum’s head out of Facebook to ask pointedly: “What exactly would you tell your class about LB?”

Giggle giggle. “About how he loves wine.”

Damn straight I love wine. This kid knows me well and I’m sure she’d have done me proud at Show-and-Tell, advertising the existence of Liquorstore Bear to the spawns of a parental demographic often described as “Bible Belt.”

Alas, my mother killed the idea. “Why don’t you show your new bike helmet?” Then hastily: “But don’t let any other kids try it on! We have to be careful about lice.”

Killjoy! We might love lice! Maybe if we brought home some lice my mum would vacuum! Bleach the sheets! Wash the—OMG!—wash the stuffies, AAARRRGHHHHH!!! No!!! My brain had misfired again with that thought, but there was no changing things now.

So P brought the helmet, which was or was not a hit with her cohort—she didn’t say, having moved on by end of day to other notions.

“LB, your blog is utterly, utterly narcissistic.”
—my mother

Had I received my 15 minutes of Grade One fame I would have told the class about PAUL & PHILIPPE ZINCK PINOT BLANC (2009), purchased by my mum in a typically petulant “do it myself” Mother’s Day mood. She wanted something that would pair with peanut-lime pork and coconut rice, and my dad is flummoxed about white wine period, never mind white-wine/food-pairing puzzles. Since my mum is almost as much of a white wine rube, she leant upon our local booze shop consultant to recommend the pinot blanc.

Billed as creamy and structured with orchard/citrus notes and lingering spice, ZINCK PINOT BLANC is a no-brainer complement to delicate flavors. Now, if only my mother produced delicate flavors in the kitchen…

She doesn’t, so let’s talk about the pinot on its own merit.

ZINCK PINOT BLANC doesn’t disappoint the nose, although if anything the notes are more tropical than orchard-like. As it sits, deep straw-colored in the glass, it wafts faraway scents that suggest humidity, scorching heat and heady refreshment, sun-soaked naked bodies that don’t resemble my dad teeing off in his birthday suit… There is, in the distant background, a hint of ginger perhaps—just enough to make you wonder whether you imagined it.

My parents’ prevailing fear of trying white wines no doubt harkens back to surreptitious childhood sips of Domaine D’Or and Sommet Blanc. If their parents intended to poison them against white wine, it worked. So whenever we do get a white in the house, they’re gobsmacked if it’s any good. The main thing they suspect white wines are missing is substance. This made ZINCK PINOT BLANC a good choice, weighing in at a respectable 12.5% alcohol and exhibiting both heft and depth. Slightly off-dry, this pinot’s character develops as the wine edges up from fridge temperature, revealing mineral subtleties and a satisfying mouthfeel.

It was perhaps a little too substantial for a Thai food pairing. Definitely beyond my philistine parents—but nonetheless a hit all around.

The newest agenda item: get more of it.