Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dievole Chianti Classico Dieulele Riserva 2001

I went to Italy in the summer of 2006. While there, my friends and I hit a wine museum in Siena, where I bought my dad a bottle that was personally recommended by the guy behind the counter.(I wrote about the trip in detail here.)

The bottle was a 2001 Dievole Chianti Classico, the “Dieulele Riserva.” It’s a beautiful bottle. I gave it to Dad for Father’s Day.

Wine Spectator had this to say about it: “This is beautiful and balanced with berry, vanilla and milk chocolate aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, soft and round with a long finish. Drink now. 375 cases made.”

“Drink now” is a little worrisome, since the review was written in 2005.

• • •

Not long ago, -j-j- had an idea that we should head over to my parents’ place and cook lasagna for them. The recipe: A butternut squash and spicy sausage lasagna I learned how to make at the Chopping Block back in 2003.

We arrived at my parents’ place, and to my surprise, my dad brought out the Dievole. I didn’t know he was going to do it, but hey, Italian wine and Italian cuisine. What would be a better time?

So Jen and I began creating.
Jen made some bruschetta…
…and I hunched my back and set into the lasagna…
The finished lasagna was pretty good if I may say so, much better than the only other time I tried to make it. (By the way, I bought the spicy sausage at Panozzo’s Italian Market in the South Loop. Go there—it’s a wonderful place with Italian meats, cheeses, groceries, wine and pre-made dishes.)
We opened the wine. It was excellent—very dark and inky, and sweet without being cloying. And it had a bit of a kick to it. I wish I could remember more—this was almost two months ago, and I didn’t take notes. Hopefully, Jen will remember more and chime in. Jen?

As for whether it went with the lasagna, I have to reluctantly say it didn’t, really. The sweetness kind of fought with the lasagna’s sweetness, and the spiciness of the wine was intensified by the spiciness of the sausage. They weren’t bad together, but they did come into conflict a little.

I was able to enjoy both by consuming them separately. I drank some water and let a little time pass between each bite of the lasagna and each sip of the wine. But I am thrilled that my dad remembered the bottle and deemed this a special enough occasion to open it.

• • •

I have noticed that nice bottle of wine is an intimidating possession. When I bring home a bottle that might be a little more expensive than I normally buy, or one that was a gift from someone, or one that I bought after having really enjoyed it in a tasting, I become reluctant to open it. I have to wait for the right moment, or serve it with the right food, so it sits forever, off-limits.

There was a story on NPR of a community that holds a party every year where people bring in the bottles they’ve been sitting on and open them up. The thinking is, “If you’re waiting for a special occasion, fine: here’s your special occasion. Open those bottles.”

The moral of “Toy Story 2” comes into play here. Toys are meant to be played with.

It’s Christmas Eve. I fully expect to be on the receiving end of a bottle or two. I still have the Riesling my brother gave me last Christmas, and the Riesling he gave me the year before that. (To be fair, the 2007 gift was specifically meant to cellar for several years. I believe Matt referred to it as a “cornerstone” wine.)

I almost have to make specific trips to buy wine that doesn’t mean a lot to me, just so I have something to drink.

So maybe the Dievole wasn’t perfect with the lasagna. But there’s no way to know that without cracking open the bottle.

And in hindsight, they look pretty good together.