OMG, our neighbours are so cool

I had no idea where I was the other morning. First I thought I’d been left at the neighbours’. It took me half the day to realize I’d been jammed into a coat pocket and that it wasn’t actually night-time. That’s what comes of a six-hour wine-and–Trivial Pursuit bender.

We drank, among many, many things, a lovely bottle of FINCA LOS PRIMOS MALBEC (2012).

finca los primos malbec

I’ve mentioned this gem before; in the past it was a go-to cheap Malbec for us, but we forgot about it for a while. Then the neighbours invited us over and we found ourselves trawling the liquor store for cheap booze. That day it was $12.98 at our local store; now they have it on sale for a buck off.

OMG, my fellow inebriates, you would totally love FINCA LOS PRIMOS. If you’ve already followed my recommendation about their cheap TORRONTES, you know these guys know how to make a brain-blasting (14%) wine that not only tastes good—it can hang with much more expensive wines and come out ahead. Fruit-forward but not exceedingly so, the Malbec features gorgeous aromas of blackberry and ripe cherries, opaque in the glass with non-stop legs. On the palate it’s enveloping and lush and almost getting out of line—wish we could say that about ourselves the other night. Four a.m. it was when it dawned on my dad to look at his watch, and then it was too late. Thank goodness the kids were at a sleepover and we live next door, otherwise we wouldn’t have made it. And hey—I almost didn’t make it. I was like Schrodinger’s cat for a while…in or out of the coat pocket, nobody knew. Or do I mean dead? Well, at least one of my two neurons was dead. It’s probably still dead. Hey, I’m blogging to you with one neuron!

I love our neighbours.


TRIVENTO AMADO SUR WHITE WINE (2012)—Good, but not quite good enough for V’s teacher

My Fellow Inebriates,

Once a month each kid in V’s kindergarten class gets to be the Special Helper. What the Special Helper’s tasks are we’re not sure; all we know is that Special Helper Day is not to be missed. It’s the one day of the month on which V will spring from bed, choose her very best outfit, cooperate all morning, and voluntarily leave the house at 8:15 without thinking of some dramatic objection at 8:14.

Special Helper Day requires some prep, which V does without urging. The Special Helper carries a Mystery Bag, preferably decorative or fancy. Into this bag goes a Mystery Object of the Special Helper’s choosing, along with a sheet of paper.

mystery bag blank

V didn’t decide until the morning of her Special Helper Day what she would put in the bag. Or at least she didn’t mention what she had in mind. But she had the bag chosen and the sheet filled out within five minutes of waking. In the past she’s brought her bead collection, her Chihuahua, various rocks, bugs—that kind of thing. For V, a found object is the best kind of Mystery Bag item, so we should have known she’d select the special piece of tree branch she’d found a couple of weekends before in Campbell Valley Regional Park. That’s what went in the bag this time.

It was 8:14, a time V has the uncanny ability to intuit each morning despite a nebulous understanding of clocks—a time Mum fears because it so often occasions some kind of hissyfit about hair-brushing or boots or which jacket fits which weather, and so on. So when Mum saw the Mystery Bag item she just sighed and went with it. Anything to get out the door.

mystery bag filled in

That’s a “g.”

So… the reason V likes the tree branch she put in the bag so much is that it’s shaped like a gun. When V first found the branch she went nuts for it and thereafter fought with P and two friends for possession of it throughout the day. P and V don’t have any toy guns, so the tree-branch gun was a huge find for them.


If Mum had any qualms about delivering V to school with a gun, she did her best to be preemptive. “Hope this isn’t controversial,” she said to V’s teacher as V handed the bag over.

“Now I’m intrigued,” said Mrs. R.

And Mum beat it out of there. We forgot about the gun until 2:30, when V emerged from class (Special Helper always leaves first.) She was beaming. Whatever the hell they do on Special Helper Day, it must be freaking amazing.

“How was your Special Helper Day?”

“It was awesome!”

“Did the kids like the Mystery Bag item?”

“Yes,” V said. “Except I wasn’t allowed to play with it.”

Fair enough. Mum’s not a total twit. Taking a gun to school—even a tree-branch gun—is pretty tasteless, and if the only downside was that V couldn’t play with it, and the rest of her Special Helper Day was still awesome, then Mrs. R is pretty awesome too. A more officious teacher might have sent V to the office, arranged a parent-teacher meeting to discuss the gun, or even confiscated it. But if what V describes is accurate, at the moment V pulled the gun out of the Mystery Bag, Mrs. R had to stifle a laugh.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“We should buy Mrs. R a bottle of TRIVENTO AMADO SUR TORRONTES/VIOGNIER/CHARDONNAY (2012),” I said. “It has the rich lushness of Argentina’s signature white wine grape with playful Viognier tartness and disciplined Chardonnay structure.”

Trivento amado sur torrontes“Nope, not good enough,” Mum said. “Mrs. R’s getting CUMA.”

Well, kick me in the nads, I thought the CUMA was for us. But Mum’s right—the TRIVENTO AMADO SUR isn’t good enough for Mrs. R. Sure, it’s a tasty wine but it’s not quite as luscious and enveloping as CUMA. Its small percentages of Viognier and Chardonnay, while strategic, nonetheless operate against the hedonistic fruitiness of the Torrontes, reining it in if you will. If you’re not a complete hedonist, you might appreciate this. This wine has excellent structure and acidity, notes of mango, melon, and jasmine, and a lingering finish. It leaves you, somehow, wanting more—a little more lushness and depth, and more follow-through on the fragrance. Not a disappointment, but not quite in the same league as CUMA.

Incidentally, by the time I finished writing this, my mum and her friend L had polished off the whole bottle of TRIVENTO AMADO SUR. Holy crap, my fellow inebriates, they really sneaked it past me. L is the friend whose kids accompanied P and V when they found the tree-branch gun in the park. L finds me creepy but says: “At least you don’t have button eyes.” To which I respond: “At least I didn’t let my kid take a gun to school.”

MICHEL TORNINO CUMA TORRONTES—Celebrating another Liebster

My Fellow Inebriates,

I was lucky enough to get nominated for another Liebster Award yesterday by the Lords of the Drinks.


It’s been a long time since I was included in one of these awesome award chains—probably because I’m usually too drunk to read a ton of blogs, which makes me a real douchebag as far as the blogging community is concerned. But I do appreciate the nod, and despite already having a Liebster on my mantel, I’m going to treat it like an Oscar and put the new one beside it, with the understanding that I can stockpile as many of these damn things as I want, and the caveat that someday the Academy will hate me for it.

The Liebster comes with 11 highly topical questions formulated by the Lords of the Drinks. Here goes…

  1. What country are you from? CANADA.
  4. What’s your favorite drink? GIN. AND RED WINE. AND BEER. AND SCOTCH. AND RYE.
  5. How many units of alcohol do you approximately drink per week? EIGHT, UNLESS I GET INCREDIBLY LUCKY.
  6. What kind of drunk are you (angry, sleepy, extra-social, horny, dramatic, dancing, etc.)? SOCIAL, EXTROVERTED, AMOROUS, HAPPY, SLEEPY, IN THAT ORDER.
  7. Is there any interesting local drinking custom, ritual, or game that you can share with us? LATELY I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT YUKAFLUX, THE CANADIAN PRACTICE OF FLOATING CHUNKS OF FRUIT IN A COMMUNAL TUB OF HARD LIQUOR.
  8. Describe your most epic drunk night. “MOST”? I WOULD NEVER REMEMBER THE MOST EPIC ONE.
  9. Which drink (or mix) is certain to screw you up? TEQUILA WITH AN ILL-CONSIDERED WHITE WINE CHASER.
  10. Got any tips on how to have a good (drunk) night for little money? STAY AT HOME AND DRINK CHEAP HARD LIQUOR FROM A PLASTIC JUG.
  11. Is there a relatively unknown drink you can recommend us? RECENTLY AN ISLAY GIN HIT THE MARKET. I’M SALIVATING TO TRY IT.
I'd like to thank the Academy, which I hope will note the tasteful way P's kelly-green gown covers my six nipples.

I’d like to thank the Academy, which I hope will note the tasteful way this kelly-green gown (who’s dressing me? why, Miss P, of course…although I am a boy bear, damn it) covers my six nipples so tastefully.

And how do we celebrate our second Liebster? Why, with a gorgeous, aromatic Argentine Torrontés of course. Not only is MICHEL TORINO CUMA TORRONTES (2012) organic; it’s also a bargain at $13.99.

Torrontés is fast becoming my favorite varietal, with its lush, floral aromas and easy drinkability. The name Torrontés actually describes several types of grape, all originating with Muscat of Alexandria and varying in degree of fruity aromaticity. CUMA grapes come from the Cafayate region of northern Argentina, a landscape of dramatic variety situated about 1,700 metres above sea level where Tannat and Chardonnay grapes are also grown with great success.

CUMA torrontesCUMA is on the Consultants’ Choice rack at our local booze shop right now, and for good reason. Generously aromatic with apple, nectar, honey, melon, and spice, its olfactory invitation simply can’t be ignored. Even my dad, after trying a sip from Mum’s my  glass, went to the cupboard for his own glass, then matched me sip for sip until most of the bottle was gone. CUMA goes a step beyond FINCA LOS PRIMOS TORRONTES with an additional layering of flavors, firm structure, and decisive minerality. The finish is middling, so you find yourself going for the next sip sooner than you otherwise might and getting slightly drunk as a result. In other words, all good.

What makes CUMA’s value extraordinary is its organic methodology. Indeed, the word “CUMA” means “clean and pure” in the pre-Incan Aymara language. Michel Torino adopted ecological “zero farming” practices back in the 1990s, using organic material from the soil and weeds to farm the vineyards, thereby minimizing the use of chemicals and fertilizers, and achieving organic certification in 2005.

CUMA’s finesse and sophistication go beyond its modest price. It was the perfect bottle to celebrate a second Liebster, although—let’s face it—once I was half-shitfaced I had no inclination to go through the formalities of passing the torch. Go ahead, call me a dickhead.