Thu 27 Mar 2008
LL was out of town and I needed to get dinner together for myself, and it was one of those days when eight hours at the desk feels like 8,000 hours, and I wanted to go to the grocery store about as much as I wanted to teach a wine class in Amish country. So I determined that when I got home, I would make dinner from whatever I found. Eggs, O.K., that’s good, we’ll try an omelet. Black olives, good again. Parsley and thyme, looking better. Half a head of radicchio left from a salad, that might be fine. Ah, some nice spring onions. Some sausages in the freezer, all it takes is a few blows of a hammer and in a trice one of those suckers is thawing in the microwave.
So, I sauteed the sausage, took it out of the pan and placed it on a paper towel, added a touch of butter, dropped in the chopped onions, waited a minute and added a little minced garlic, let those turn color slightly, and then dropped in the julienne radicchio and quartered black olives. Whisked three eggs with the chopped parsley and thyme, poured the mixture into the pan over the onions and radicchio and other stuff. Let it cook for a minute, lifted the edges with a spatula so the liquidy part would flow under, another minute or two and so on, watching carefully not to overcook, and there was my dinner, set on a plate with the sausage and a piece of wheat toast. I don’t mind eating breakfast for dinner, obviously.
As I usually do when I eat dinner alone at home — though one is never actually alone in a houseful of dogs — I set out four or five wines to taste as I ate: a Chianti, a merlot, a syrah, maybe a cabernet. (Though a lighter pinot noir or a hearty Beaujolais is good with an omelet.) My omelet, by the way, was delicious and looked good too; the hint of bitterness from the radicchio really balanced nicely with the earthiness of the olives and the sweetness of the onions. Yum.
So I opened the Chianti and poured a little in my glass, intending to go on to the other wines. I didn’t get to them.
Now I don’t want to oversell this wine, but the Vino dei Fratelli Chianti 2006 was not only terrific with the omelet, but it was a shining example of what a Chianti should be at its suggested price, about $10. Made from 95 percent sangiovese and five percent canaiolo grapes and seeing no oak, only stainless steel, the wine is incredibly fresh and lively, bursting with spicy black currant and plum scents and flavors with hints of cranberry and blueberry; something wild is there, something not just spicy but exotic and earthy. There’s a firm acid backbone and a foundation of tannin that lends dustiness and a dense, chewy texture. Yeah, I drank it with an omelet, but at the price it’s certainly worth buying a case to go with the food that’s going to be emerging, hot and crusty, from your outdoor grill this summer. Perfect with burgers, pizza, pork chops and such. I rate the wine Very Good+ and name it a Great Bargain.
It’s imported by Quinessential, in Napa, Ca. Visit quintessentialwines.com.