ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2011)—Now your liver can handle it

My Fellow Inebriates,

I’ve been waiting a long time for technology to catch up to my drinking. So when I saw this new bioprinter that manufactures functional liver tissues, I knew my ship had come in. And probably yours, too, my fellow inebriates, with your complicated “real biological organism” livers that are no doubt being pummeled senseless by CUERVO.

bioprinter can print a new liver for me

Goodbye HP, hello NovoGen MMX Bioprinter. Photograph by Timothy Hogan.


The best part is that LBHQ is in the market for a new printer anyway. Two days ago our HP started blinking. After ascertaining it had plenty of ink, Dad jiggled the cartridges around to make sure it knew it had ink, but the bloody thing kept flashing until we looked up the error code and learned it needs a new print head. And given the disposable nature of electronics these days, I thought, well, why not put this wretched HP on the curb and get ourselves a new bioprinter? If the thing can print liver tissue, it probably does a freaking awesome job on ordinary office documents, right? Win win.

And the third win? We can drink more ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON (2011) knowing our livers have a back-up plan sitting in the office.

But wait a sec. What the hell are bioprinters, and are they for real? I’ve had my chain yanked before, people, so let’s look into it.

Judging by venture capitalists’ enthusiasm for them, bioprinters are the real deal. The printers layer bioink onto biological scaffolds that allow it to be shaped into blood vessels, ears, synthetic hamburgers, urethras—you name it, MFI. The technology is really complicated—maybe more so than our defunct HP’s, and certainly too complicated for an idiot bear to understand. So I gave the marketing materials to my dad, who makes all the LBHQ electronics purchases. You see, I can’t just say: “Dad, go and buy us a bioprinter so we can produce crisp documents and filtration organs.” He has to do the reading himself, so it can be his idea. All I can do is put a bug in his ear.

Meanwhile, our livers are crying out for this thing. ALAMOS CABERNET SAUVIGNON contains 13.5 percent alcohol and, with its dark berry redolence and mouth-filling depth, you try stopping me from finishing the bottle.

alamos_cab_webALAMOS benefits from decanting. Once swished and swirled it releases a concentrated burst of dark fruit and earthiness and perhaps a little leather. The color is deep purple. Tasting notes from our local booze shop insist that it’s medium-bodied, but—and perhaps we’ve just been drinking lighter wines lately—ALAMOS knocked our socks off with its palate-coating mouthfeel. The tannins are firm, you get oak and chocolate plus hints of tobacco in the background, and the finish is lengthy and satisfying. Damn fine for $14.99.

So my thought was: let’s pound as much of this stuff as we can. Within the week we’ll have a new bioprinter—i.e., an unlimited supply of livers, ears, and urethras if we need them. Now we can drink without worry.

BERONIA RESERVA RIOJA—Denied. It’s bear abuse, people!

My Fellow Inebriates,

I’ve been sulking.

You would too if you were a bear with the DTs. On Sunday I received this pic:


OMG, look at that, I thought. My parents are sending me a message; they want me to come and share some delicious wine with them.

But I couldn’t find them anywhere. In fact, the house was empty—every window and door shut. Where the hell were they, MFI?

I started to panic. One Direction was not simpering from the living room speakers. The car was gone. Purses and wallets were gone. It was 30°C and climbing at LBHQ. And suddenly here was this cheeky photo, along with several others.

034 048 051

Calm down, LB.

It’s hard to calm down when your only company consists of panting bears confined on a sweltering day. We were dying, people.


Blackie’s dark coat, he told us, was making him the hottest.

Scary contended his core temperature was the hottest thanks to his imagined 300-kg bulk.

Scary contended his core temperature was the hottest thanks to his imagined 300-kg bulk.

You only had to look at Fluffy to know his thick coat was doing him in.

You only had to look at Fluffy to know his thick coat was doing him in.


And Speedy?

Speedy was wigging out.

Speedy was wigging out.

A quick snoop through my parents’ e-mails told us they were at a 50th anniversary party. Who the hell would invite them to such a thing? Who would invite them anywhere?

Next came a text: tasting notes for BERONIA RESERVA RIOJA (2008).

Intensely concentrated yet nuanced flavors of blueberries, ripe cherries, and deep cocoa with supporting notes of vanilla and oak—perhaps some coconut? Definitely a slow sipper that develops nicely as it breathes. Nice tannins—much more refined than we’re used to at home, LOL. Yummy, yummy wine here, LB, too bad you can’t have some.

OMFG!!! How sincere do those condolences sound, my fellow inebriates??? “Too bad”? Too bad!!

Meanwhile, the butter was doing this.


The thermometer said 34°C now, and my fool parents had forgotten to shut the blinds. The house was cooking, and so were we bears.

The only saving grace was that the kids had put Scary in handcuffs sometime that morning.


Did they know somehow that he’d be getting ornery and need containment? Good kids. Too bad our their parents are such tools.

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.”