OGOPOGO’S LAIR PINOT GRIGIO (2011)—Surprisingly delicate choice for a sea monster

My Fellow Inebriates,

My mother has produced an extremely belated Christmas present for yours truly—unwrapped as it happens—and a transparently obvious excuse to have a drink tonight while everybody else is on Vancouver Island. You see, my mother gets a bit freaked out by the noises our old house makes, and the only cure for that is to get drunk.

Ogopogo's Lair

Calling it my Christmas present and giving it to me on January 1 is rich, MFI, don’t you think? There I was on Christmas morning, on my best behaviour beside the Christmas tree, and there was nothing—sweet nothing for this little bear. But when my mother gets the urge to have a drink…Merry Christmas, LB, look what I got you! You don’t mind if I drink it with you, do you, little buddy?

Luckily for her I don’t mind. The bottle in question is called OGOPOGO’S LAIR PINOT GRIGIO (2011), produced by Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery in Kelowna, British Columbia.

Named for the fabulous creature that inhabits Okanagan Lake, this wine pours a delicate peachy-straw colour that makes my fur look dirty by comparison. So light and inviting is this Pinot that you might be tempted to upend the bottle, but it is lovely to look at in the glass, wafting bright citrus and fresh orchard tones.

Thank you Wikipedia. We have a pic somewhere of my friend Scary riding the Ogopogo but it's gone missing :(

Thank you Wikipedia. We have a pic somewhere of my friend Scary riding the Ogopogo but it’s gone missing 😦

I wouldn’t have associated such a wine with the Ogopogo. I’d have taken that beast for a whisky drinker—a Laguvulin fan probably. But this is a Christmas present out of nowhere, so I’ll take it. Let’s find out how it tastes, my fellow inebriates.

OMG, it is lovely. Fresh and nicely balanced, with deliciously crisp acidity and a flirty finish, OGOPOGO’S LAIR is delightful. I think my mother should have bought me two bottles, don’t you? Especially since Fluffy Bear and I are planning to make tons of scary noises tonight, and she’ll need to be completely wrecked if she wants to miss that.

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?

3 rules about wine labels, and what happens when you violate them

My Fellow Inebriates,

Last night an animal clawed through our garbage. Presumably it was a raccoon, but it could also have been Scarybear. Or it could have been the neighbors’ cat Cuddles, a monumentally dense animal that refuses to exit our driveway when Dad backs the car out.

One day the kids drew a chalk circle around Cuddles, who stayed within it for the whole afternoon and was still there when Mum called everyone for dinner. Trapped by its magic boundaries, Cuddles seemed indifferent and probably would have loitered all night, but I’m guessing Fluffy tapped into some higher evil realm and released her with his mind while the family was eating. Fluffy may well have empowered Cuddles to ravage the trash as well, although she seems a bit dumpy for that level of exertion. Scary isn’t known for physical feats either, and he doesn’t smell any more garbagey than usual, so it probably was a raccoon.

My dad’s job tonight is to stay awake until the raccoon comes back. If he can catch it in the act, slay it, and skin it, then Mum won’t need to buy stewing meat for the YELLOW TAIL bourguignon she’s planning. A barely touched 2010 Cabernet-Merlot has been languishing at LBHQ since our very good friends brought it over for dinner, unwittingly violating three rules about wine labels:

    • BEWARE OF PRIMARY COLORS

    • BEWARE OF ANIMALS

    • THIS GOES DOUBLE FOR MARSUPIALS

Call my parents snobs (not me! I wanted to drink it) but they avoided consuming YELLOW TAIL even at the cost of remaining sober throughout the evening. They’d better hope our friends don’t read this review, because they slagged that wine. This is what happens when you get picky about wine: it ruins your appreciation of cheap wine and turns you into a pretentious douche who decides to make beef raccoon stew instead of knocking the YELLOW TAIL back with your favorite little bear.

Let’s hope Cuddles doesn’t encounter the raccoon. Come to think of it, we haven’t seen Cuddles for a few days…

If my dad succeeds in catching the raccoon, justice will be served in more than one way. Not only will he punish it for strewing our trash all over the street and causing the garbage dudes to reject it (which means we have to guard it from raccoons for a further week), but he’ll punish raccoons as a species for shredding the swimming pool in the back yard of the very neighbors who brought us the YELLOW TAIL!

I don’t know what sort of weapons my dad will use against the raccoon. I don’t like thinking of its furry bandit face getting brained by a shovel or choked by a length of Monster Cable. Let’s hope he does it quickly so the animal doesn’t suffer. Dad probably doesn’t want it caterwauling in our driveway at 3:00 a.m. either, especially since we’re new to the neighborhood.

He’ll have to bleed it out properly so the meat doesn’t get ruined. Whether this is a family-friendly activity remains to be seen, but I’m guessing the kids will wake up and want to be part of it.

As for your humble bear, I will be nowhere near this action. I don’t eat stew. I sympathize with animals. I want to drink the YELLOW TAIL CABERNET MERLOT. Yes, it has a schoolhouse grape-juiciness, lacks any depth at all, clouts you over the head with tannins, and features a stylized kangaroo leaping beneath a crayon-blue banner. All these characteristics say to me easy drinking, fun, approachable, chill-out wine. To my mother they say (beef) bourguignon.

So it’ll be a big surprise for her when Dad emerges from his dead-of-night scuffle with a reeking freegan trophy. She’ll swoon when he plunks it on the counter for her to butcher. And she can tell our good friends with a wink, “That YELLOW TAIL did not go to waste.”