As soon as I said Fluffy Bear’s paranormal activities had ceased, I knew it was a mistake. Sure, he’d been staring blankly at the wall for weeks without incident. Sure, the bumps in the night had settled into the normal noises of a 30-year-old house. But you never want to take the occult for granted.

I could kick myself for saying Granny had departed Fluffy’s body. Of course she hadn’t; the two of them must have been hibernating. Because as soon as I posted it, our television died. With one psychic zap, Fluffy annihilated our plasma, and now we have no TV.


You are so dead, LB.

Scarybear is devastated. Television is his whole life, and naturally he’s pissed at yours truly for foolishly saying Fluffy had gone dormant. Of course he hadn’t!! If anything he was saving up his telekinetic powers. Who knows—maybe it was Fluffy who broke the dishwasher in October, and he just needed to recharge so he could attack the TV.

You never want an animal like Scary mad at you, so I offered him some ERRAZURIZ ESTATE RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC (2012). To this he made a politically incorrect limp-wrist gesture, and then kicked my ass. Scary isn’t very enlightened.

DSCN2986Too bad for Scary. This Chilean wine is crisp and zingy with hints of tropical fruit and sharp green apple. Produced from grapes grown in the Aconcagua Valley, a region thought for many years to be unsuitably hot, ERRAZURIZ proves naysayers wrong with its elegant and substantial (13.5%) Sauvignon Blanc. In perfect character for the varietal, ERRAZURIZ would be refreshing on a hot summer day or when you’re sweating after an ass-kicking. It disappeared very quickly at LBHQ.

Would we buy it again, though? It’s light, it’s zingy…but Scary may accidentally be right about it being too airy and bright—at least in winter. It’s certainly worth noting for when the hot weather comes.

As for Fluffy, he’s getting no wine. Seriously, he likes TV. The dishwasher he may not have given a crap about, but TV?? Breaking Bad? What the hell, Fluffy?

GARNACHA DE FUEGO—The cure for the End of Days, but not Fluffy

When we bought GARNACHA DE FUEGO (2009), we did so just in time. Some dude was grabbing up all the bottles! Naturally this made us eager to hang on to our treasure and maybe even taunt the guy with the one bottle in our basket.

Ahhhh, the liquor store. The clinking! The tinkling! The samples! The atmosphere! The scent of empties being returned…I don’t accompany my parents there very often because they don’t trust me, but if my mum’s using her big patent leather bag I sometimes jump in just as they’re leaving. On this particular day I wasn’t just lured by the thought of thousands of booze bottles. I wanted to get the hell out of LBHQ. Scarybear had just mentioned that we were approaching Fluffy’s first Halloween in the house.

On this day last year, Granny was very sick, and Fluffy was with her. Far away in Ireland, he sat on a chest of drawers, observing Granny’s last days…waiting.

Fast-forward to today. Granny: dead. Fluffy: haunted by Granny, who didn’t always get along with my mother. Scary: preoccupied with the earth’s overdue magnetic field shift and needing to project his apocalyptic anxiety onto the easiest victim, yours truly.

Scooping that one bottle of GARNACHA DE FUEGO felt like such a score that I forgot about these problems. Spain has been lucky for us lately, $15.99 wasn’t painful, and 14.5% alcohol gets two paws up any day. Situated high in the hills of Calatayud (say that drunk), old vines produce grapes bursting with concentrated sweetness and depth. And when the guy ahead of you in the checkout is buying 15 bottles of the stuff, it’s a strong endorsement.

My dad was afraid of the silly label. True, it’s a little over the top, but at LBHQ we are much more leery of a wine label bearing wombats or chooks than one depicting “Grenache of Fire.” Indeed, the former type is more frightening than Fluffy’s paranormal antics and the great magnetic pole flip put together.

What Scary doesn’t realize in his countdown to December 21, the generally agreed-upon End of Days, is that a magnetic reversal would take tens of centuries to occur. It’s not like planes will fall out of the air or birds will start bonking into each other suddenly. The change will be subtle. Some scientists believe the shift is already in its early stages but is so slow as to be imperceptible.

North is magnetic by virtue of atomic majority rule in the planet’s molten core; more atoms face north than south. As individual atoms flip, eventually the dominant magnetism may shift to south, but a long and middling interval will precede any definitive magnetic south. During this time—and this is the potentially dangerous part—the earth’s magnetic field will weaken as its atoms’ polarities split roughly evenly between north and south orientations, leaving the planet more vulnerable to the solar flares that a strong magnetic field would deflect. In turn the ozone layer will be more susceptible to holes, although, as Scary should know from his other theories about Armageddon, by then we’ll have torched the whole protective layer anyway. We’ll (well, you will, and I if I shave my fur off) be running around with skin like crispy KFC, but not this December 21, people.

Scary is a total dumbass but at least he stayed out of the GARNACHA DE FUEGO. The “fire” may be a reference to the peppery spice that characterizes the wine, especially at rear palate after it’s dealt you much-welcome lashings of rich, earthy fruit with a nice acidic backbone. Considering the reported desolation of the Calatayud region, it makes some kick-ass grapes, which translate into a gorgeously balanced wine with just the right tannic profile. You could drink it with food, but if you’d prefer to get ripped out of your head, enjoy this quaff solo (especially if “solo” means you don’t have to share with Scary, Fluffy, or your dad).

The best thing about having a whole bottle of GARNACHA DE FUEGO to yourself is that you’ll lose all concern for magnetic shifts, tectonic upheavals, solar flares, and the like. But you might still worry about the occult potential of any possessed members of your household, especially on a night like tonight. I hear that when you’re really wrecked you become more susceptible to suggestion, and this was probably the case when I thought I heard Granny asking me if I had any cigarettes. I didn’t (holy shit, my fellow inebriates, I’m too flammable to mess with stuff like that, and where would I keep them—being ever-nude I don’t even have a pocket for a flask), but when I turned toward the voice, all I saw was Fluffy with his vacant eyes.

And how was YOUR Halloween?

CRIOS TORRONTES (2011)—Good enough to attract the undead

My Fellow Inebriates,

It appears Granny doesn’t need Fluffy any more; she’s loose in the house and no longer requires a furry vessel.

Go ahead. Roll your eyes. But last night at 3:00am both kids woke up screaming.

Usually, if this happens, my dad wakes up first. In contrast to all the other mothers in the world who are famously sensitive to their little ones’ cries, my mother goes into a coma when she sleeps, and by the time she’s aware of their distress (if she even becomes aware) my dad’s already parked himself on the floor between their two beds and resigned himself to an uncomfortable hour while they settle down.

Tough luck for my mum—Dad’s in Vegas this week. Who knows how long the kids had to scream to rouse her; I didn’t hear it myself. (I don’t sleep in my parents’ room [for fear of witnessing Unspeakable Acts].) I was downstairs, passed out after an irresistible glass of CRIOS TORRONTES (2011). But she finally dragged herself into the girls’ room and sprawled between their beds.

On the floor she was oppressed by dreams of Granny, who demanded—in the only dream my mother could remember particularly—whether she had watered the plant. (She hadn’t.)

But why do I suspect Granny’s ghost has decoupled itself from Fluffy? It seems to need to be somewhere; it wasn’t here until Fluffy arrived from Ireland, which makes me think it hitchhiked, which makes me think she needed a place to reside for the voyage. It’s just that lately…lately Fluffy’s started seeming kind of normal, maybe even cool. He hasn’t given off that freaky golem aura in a while. He hangs out with the bears; he watches Breaking Bad with us…he’s okay.

So why did Granny ditch him? And where is she now?

The first question is easy. Summer will drive our thermostat beyond 38°C (that’s over 100°F). Fluffy’s the fluffiest, most insulated animal who ever entered the house. His body will be purgatory for any occupant spirits. In fact, a paranormal squatter would be only slightly less desperate than Fluffy himself. Granny must have vamoosed.

What confirms this is the thermostat itself. We bears have been razzing Fluffy about his thick pelt and warning him that Langley ain’t Northern Ireland—he’s gonna suffer when the mercury rises. So he’s been getting stressed out. And the day Dad left for Vegas, the thermostat quit. I think Fluffy accidentally destroyed it with his mind just by fretting about his impending suffering. And Granny herself—well, she’s visited Langley in summer before, so she knows what it’s like; she probably deked out at that moment, leaving Fluffy in sole charge of his paranormally amplified faculties and nuking our thermostat.

So Granny is bumping around the house sans Fluffy and messing with everybody’s REM sleep. OMG! Why? How long do the dead hang around? Isn’t there some notion about them going somewhere? Or is there unfinished business here?

Personally, and you may find this cynical, I think she may well have been on her way into the ether when we bought BEEFEATER 24. Granny was pretty easygoing about her booze, so she wouldn’t quibble about whether it was the family gin of my mother’s childhood or a tea-infused 2008 bid for more market share. It was BEEFEATER, damn it, and when 750mL of it arrived in the house, she decided to stay. And my mum sealed the deal by also buying a delectable white wine. Why would Granny go anywhere with CRIOS TORRONTES in the house?

A Staff Pick at our neighborhood booze shop, CRIOS TORRONTES had been giving us come hither looks for months. The only thing delaying the purchase was my dad, who’s not keen on white wine. My mum bought it within an hour of dropping him off at the airport—that’s how keen we both were to try it. And with good reason.

Intensely aromatic, CRIOS TORRONTES exudes peach—not the gently rotting peach of a Unibroue beer but rapturously fresh peach backed up by subtler orchard fruits. These generous fragrances hint of fruit hedonism—out-of-control sweetness and mayhem in the mouth. But CRIOS TORRONTES is faking you out with those orgiastic aromas. Sip it, and instead of being overwhelmed, you are drawn into a beguiling off-dry symphony of flavors, delicately structured with all the fruity exuberance of a good Sauvignon Blanc—but in a bigger-bodied, sultry, and lingering Torrontes. As it rises from fridge temperature, CRIOS TORRONTES becomes even more appealing, continuing to waft gorgeous peach and melon while spreading across the palate with elegant pacing and controlled generosity.

I’m thinking we need to pound this wine tonight and chase it with the BEEFEATER 24 so these libations are not hanging around when everybody goes to sleep. As much as I liked Granny, her visits are freaking me out.