LUCCARELLI NEGROAMARO (2016) — Because it’s Wednesday, dammit

This week I have a find from our local booze shop’s “Consultant’s Choice” display. (Actually there are TWO such displays. I’m praising the <$20 collection—I’ve never had any from the pricey Consultant’s Choice shelf.) For just $13.99, this fruit-forward, full-bodied Italian wine will make your fur stand on end.


But before I start mouthing off about wine again, a backgrounder on Puglia. I had no idea it existed, my fellow inebriates, until it appeared on the CC shelf. Puglia wine comes from Italy, where almost anything can grow. According to the Internet, if it contains notes of plum, raspberry and anise, the grapes were probably harvested off the back of the heel of the Italian boot. The bottle we tried, LUCCARELLI NEGROAMARO (2016) is a stunning example of Puglia, and one that we intend to buy repeatedly.

This wine has that quality that makes you go “ahhhh.” It makes you want to lick the bottom of the glass (which I’m not allowed to do even though I’m very absorbent).

DANZANTE PINOT GRIGIO (2012)—You can’t trust this review any more than I can trust my mother

My mother texted some tasting notes from an undisclosed location last week:


Medium-bodied. Noticeable but restrained tropical profile. Good weight, good structure, excellent minerality. Quite firm with a long finish. Maybe 20 bucks or so?


So here my mother was again, drinking wine without me. When I asked my dad where the hell she was, he said, “At work.” And apparently it was not bring-your-bear-to-work day. Apparently work is not bear-friendly.

What the hell kind of work could my mother be doing that involves lashings of Pinot Grigio? And can I really trust her tasting notes? Let’s check, first of all, whether she’s right about the price.


Wrong! DANZANTE PINOT GRIGIO sells for $17.48.

Clearly my mother’s tastebuds were influenced by whatever sort of event she was attending. (OMG, where the hell was she?) Clearly whatever posh dinner accompanied the wine made it taste like $20 instead of $17.48. And clearly she needed a bear with her to estimate this wine’s cost more accurately.

So now I wonder whether we can even trust her tasting notes.

Let’s assume, my fellow inebriates, that this wine tasted a little better to my mother than it actually was. And really, I feel better doing that, because it means I didn’t miss out on such a good drinking experience. 

Next time I will stow away in her purse.

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?