ROBERT MONDAVI PRIVATE SELECTION CHARDONNAY (2016)—even if the kids didn’t drive you to it, you deserve it

My fellow inebriates,

Every so often, Mum and I go to our local booze shop (I ride in her purse) and pick out bottle of wine. I salivate as she pays with her debit card. Usually, that wine becomes an accompaniment to Netflix after the kids finally consent to go to bed. Then… ahhhh!

Today, however, my mother bought—in addition to a bottle of ROBERT MONDAVI PRIVATE SELECTION CHARDONNAY (2016)—a turquoise gift bag. Immediately I knew this wine was not for us; it was for Miss V’s long-suffering grade 5 teacher.

Mondavi private selection

You’d think my mother would have bought two of these bottles so we could also drink to V’s graduation from elementary school—but no luck. You see, my dad hates Chardonnay, so my mother and I would have to drink a whole bottle by ourselves, and that never ends well. So she demurred.

Fortunately I can still share tasting notes because my Nana—who is way cooler than my mother—has brought this wine to our house before. ROBERT MONDAVI PRIVATE SELECTION CHARDONNAY is smooth with ripe fruit aromas and moderate acidity. As you sip, you’ll detect pineapple, green apple, mango, and vanilla. It also has a touch of that butteriness that Chardonnay freaks love.

If I were a teacher I’d drink a bottle of this every night. So (presumably) now Miss V’s teacher has an extra.

You really can’t pay teachers enough, as Breaking Bad taught all of us so long ago.

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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.

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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).

J. LOHR SEVEN OAKS CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2010)—in my fur

My Fellow Inebriates,

This week Miss P is touring a historic Fort Langley site with her class. My dad, who is joining the field trip as a “parent helper,” has the option of dressing up with her in old-time pioneer clothes. Although this leaves the house empty for us bears to party, I still get freaked out by these Fort Langley outings. Last time they went, my mum emailed me a photo of a bearskin rug.

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This is how the conversation went later.

Me: Nice photo. We bears call that “bear terrorism.”

Mum: I thought it would make you laugh.

Me: Did “Silence of the Lambs” make you laugh?

Mum: Some bits of it.

Okay, so my mum is a freaking psychopath. She nevertheless has produced a useful justification for getting into the wine. I mean, what bear wouldn’t need to calm down after seeing something like that?

j lohrThe wine in question is J. LOHR SEVEN OAKS CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2010). How a wine costing $22.99 entered our home is a point of dispute between my dad, who took my mother’s disappointment with a recent $11 bottle as a command to go and spend 100 percent more next time, and my mother, who has a “wish list” of $25+ wines but won’t ever buy any of them because of a pathological parsimony that, once early-onset dementia and $11 wine claim a few more of her brain cells, will probably eventuate in her cooking seagulls after they’ve choked on our garbage, and who therefore hotly disputes having had anything to do with my dad’s decision to buy the J. LOHR.

Needless to say, this dampened their enthusiasm for the bottle. Neither one made so much as a comment on its aromatic cherry notes, its glass-gripping body, or its ripe, jammy fruit swimming in vanilla-oak. It was biggish, almost lush, stopping short of hedonics however, and more or less thumbing its nose at us for parting with 23 bucks.

If anything, J. LOHR SEVEN OAKS is a consistent wine. From vintage to vintage, it holds up in its price range. It has a certain velvety smoothness that suggests fine attention and craft. On the tongue it could linger a little longer, but of course I can always just stick my paw in the glass and slurp it out of my fur. Because it’s my fur, damn it!

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So I would buy it again, my fellow inebriates, but only when my mum ups the wine budget. Until then, there are plenty of decent wines that ring in under $15 and give J. LOHR a run for its money.