BARAHONDA ROBLE MONASTRELL SYRAH (2008)—Whatever the hell Labor Day is, this wine should be part of it

In diapers

For bears like me and Scarybear (and lately Fluffy too), Labor Day marks not the beginning of an arduous work cycle but the end of two months of being dragged through the yard, decorated with flowers, festooned with miniature ponies, draped with various dishtowel-cum-frocks (you know what I mean, don’t be dirty)—in short, a laborious summer. We bears don’t care if we can’t wear white shoes after September 3, as long as we don’t have to don any more dresses—at least not before 3 p.m. each weekday. Yes! The kids—both kids—are returning to school, and we bears will be left to hang out and stare at the walls, or whatever you might think we do when nobody’s looking.

In bondage

What the hell does Labor Day signify anyway? Who really has the whole summer off? Nobody at LBHQ had the summer off. Dad worked, Mum worked (here and there), the kids worked on their X-box skills, Scary and I got worked over by the kids, and we all changed headquarters, which was a lot of damn work.

Despite the bear abuse freely countenanced by my parents, I’ll miss summer. The best thing about it was that, as soon as it got hot out, my dad would buy beer. In fact, everything about our summer was a trigger to buy beer. Packing? Beer! Moving? Beer! Unpacking? Beer!

But surely autumn offers equivalent booze-buying triggers. If anything the approach of inclement weather should spur us to polish off the gin, pound any lager occupying the fridge, and welcome heavier, more robust delights like the BARAHONDA ROBLE MONASTRELL SYRAH (2008).

Also known as Mourvèdre, Monastrell grapes are known for producing intensely fruity, tannic, high-alcohol wines that, if not aged correctly, can evince barnyardy notes. The grapes are hard to please, preferring hot sun and high irrigation plus a crapload of viticultural TLC. Monastrell is often blended with Syrah because of the tannic structure it imparts, as with BARAHONDA ROBLE.

Our favorite liquor store consultant hadn’t yet tried this wine; he said it was new to the store. But he did advise pairing it with food—barbecued animal perhaps, or pasta with red sauce. Even though this dude is the full-on maestro when it comes to wine tasting, we decided to ignore his advice. My mother assured him she would cut some cheese, which was a lie, at least in one sense.

At the time of drinking, the kids were on Vancouver Island with their (our) grandparents. The house was very quiet and calm. The mess hadn’t ratcheted up throughout the day. There wasn’t the usual post-bedtime fallout and clean-up. I’d spent the day on the same part of the couch all day, unsummoned for play. It was eerie.

Now, either this weird calmness conjured up some crazy, silvery sensitivity on our palates, or BARAHONDA ROBLE was freaking awesome. Maybe both. Rich maroon in the glass, it demonstrated generous legs as it whispered huskily of blackberries and oaky refinement. Swirled in the glass, those blackfruit flavors concentrated into an olfactory rush, layering on luscious dark fruits.

And the sip? OMG, my fellow inebriates!! Does wine really taste that much better with the kids out of the house or was this wine just that insanely good? Ahhhh, to ever know that, we’d have to buy another bottle and drink it with the kids at home. But yes, this wine is—apologies, Robert Parker—this wine is fucking-A. Crossing the front palate like an old-money guest with an armload of gifts, BARAHONDA ROBLE redoubles the fruit-laden generosity promised to the nose with cherry, dried fruit, and gorgeous minerality. It unloads its parcels in the foyer then charges to mid-palate, still producing gifts—well-integrated oak, rich jam, and deep earthiness. It continues rhapsodically discharging these wondrous flavours, finishing with grippy tannins before depositing its wonderful 14% alcohol in one’s furry tummy.

Was it a sensory orgy? BARAHONDA ROBLE was too disciplined, too structured for that. It stopped just short of that, and just as well. You wouldn’t—couldn’t—get the impression that this wine wasn’t in control of the dance.

What a marvelous under-$20 find from the Spanish wine aisle in our local booze shop. A spectacular summer ender, too, and a product to stock for the coming cold months.

With a product like BARAHONDA ROBLE warming your fur, who needs summer? Labor Day’s arrival is welcome, especially if it occasions another wine purchase.

THE WOLFTRAP SYRAH MOURVEDRE VIOGNIER (2010)—Further proof of the Fluffy Problem

No matter what kinds of irresponsible shit I do, no matter how many hours I spend per day passed out or violating someone else’s personal space, my friends have my back.

I didn’t expect an outpouring of sympathy over my girlfriend Dolly’s defection to Fluffy, my deceased Granny’s teddy bear and probable golem. I failed Dolly in all sorts of ways—I even forgot about her for stretches. So I realize I deserved to get bounced.

But my friends rallied! Check it out, my fellow inebriates: my friend Scarybear, who doesn’t even really like me, had an idea.

OMG! Should I hit the “Like” button?

Except I really don’t hate Fluffy. He’s too out-to-lunch to warrant any antipathy. To give you an example of his coma state, the other night we were enjoying THE WOLFTRAP SYRAH/MOURVEDRE/VIOGNIER (2010), and I offered Fluffy some. He didn’t even move. What the hell?

A $15 Friday-night splurge, THE WOLFTRAP had caught my parents’ attention with its unusual blend of varietals, vinified separately and then combined as per South African winemaking law. Sixty-five percent syrah was the perfect answer to my fruit-forward jones, and the 32% mourvedre component promised to weigh in with earthy tannins and structure. And the bonus: 3% viognier for spice. The combo didn’t disappoint.

Although I never advocate cellaring anything unless you’re so made of money that you can afford other things to drink while your precious wines develop, I did find myself wondering what a year or two would do for THE WOLFTRAP. Yes, it was rich and heavy and leggy with generous black fruits, floral notes, spice, and it had a satisfying mellowness, but its oak ageing was quite conspicuous. I’d venture that—if one could handle waiting to crack this bottle—it would pay dividends in terms of maturity. Still, it didn’t lack for balance; it was an excellent casual sipper and a great find for the money.

If I were Fluffy and my new bear friend LB were offering me wine, I would have responded somehow—maybe nodded, advanced toward the glass, or something. But Fluffy was completely impassive.

AND YET. Since Fluffy arrived, Strange Things have been happening in the house. Noises. Cold spots. Girlfriend stealing.

I asked Dolly if it bothered her that Fluffy is probably possessed by Granny’s ghost. She said, “Isn’t he cuddly? He smells like Fleecy.” Punctuated with a giggle.

I think Dolly might be a sociopath. She is a known furvert (Type 4 furrie) whose fetish leads her to seek the sexual company of bears, but she nevertheless admires Toshiko Shek’s decapitated-bear purses. If there is a dichotomy here, Dolly is unaware of it.

Given Fluffy’s lack of response to Dolly’s affections and how undeterred she is, she might also be a necrophile. But I’ll stop right there because I don’t want to say anything bad about her.

I wish she’d come back. 😦

In the meantime, my friend Rachael had a tremendous idea:

I suggest trying a Ouija Board with Fluffy. Maybe you’ll be able to break through that catatonia and find the REAL reason that bear is so frighteningly quiet.

Would that work? We don’t have a Ouija board here at LBHQ; my mum has too much Catholic baggage to permit one in the house. So how can I get hold of one without her knowing???