I realize that not a single reader will relate to this (aside from my two sisters), but I’m the daughter of a wild hog expert.
I hadn’t fully grasped my privileged pedigree while growing up, but it became apparent when I was 25. One night, while channel surfing on my sofa in Washington DC, I landed on the most incredible and hilarious program ever, “MonsterQuest: MegaHog.”
The show’s goal is to terrify viewers by assembling a group of wildlife experts and supposed spotters to track down evidence of beastly, monstrous animals. This particular episode focused on the epidemic of gigantic wild hogs running amok in the southern United States. On the screen, my dad was holding a pair of binoculars and scanning the landscape where a group of wild hogs gathered in the distance. Yes, it’s true. He was brought in as the hog expert. And he’d been so modest, he hadn’t even told us about it!
So, not only was I raised in an obsessively carnivorous Texas home, I’m also the daughter of a hog guru?! Needless to say, when I learned about a dinner which featured an entire wild boar from Texas paired with a vertical tasting of Brunello, I was delighted. The dinner was hosted at Aroma Kitchen & Wine Bar in NYC and prepared by head chef Vito Polosa.
The verdict? Boar is good and should be consumed more often. The 2007 Brunellos showed restraint, while the 2006′s were the Beyoncés of the line-up — perfumed and pretty, but with an unmistakable ferocity and focus. The 2004 is drinking really nicely now, especially with food (ideally, boar). I’m still wrapping my head around older Brunellos, like the 1998 we tried.
Tasting notes and pairings are below the fold. And finally, feel free to let me know if you have any pig-related questions that I can pass along to Pat Canan, MegaHog Expert. [Here's a link to the MonsterQuest episode, fast forward to minute 12:10].
Arancini of wild boar, Tuscan kale & pecorino di fossa
Wild boar and broccoli rabe fritelle
Castello Banfi Belnero 2009: Sangiovese with 17% Cabernet and 3% Merlot. Perfumed nose; ripe, dark red fruits, sweet spices, a little cedar.
Pig notes: The arancini was delicious. Not a big fan of the ball on the left of the plate.
Winter greens salad, braised boar shoulder, lardons
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2007: Not an incredibly opened up aroma – I found it a little coy on the nose, but could pick up some tobacco. On the palate, balanced, dusty, woodsy, and sour cherry. Soft and strong.
Pig notes: This was my favorite food course. The smoky rich and decadent lardons were excellent with the freshness of the greens. The addition of boar shoulder was totally unnecessary and totally welcome.
Pici, wld boar ragu, porcini, pecorino tartufo
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2006: Grippy and powerful. Much more heft than the 2006. Focused cherries, wet leaves, and a little leather. To me, tasted younger than the 2007.
Pig notes: Nutmeg and sweet spice in the ragu that complimented the structure and acidity of the wine. The porcini was a bit overpowering (in shape, as you can see, and texture). Pasta was delicious.
Wild boar rib porchetta, Brussels sprouts
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura 2006: A little funk on the nose, like asphalt or tar. This didn’t translate to the palate, which had vanilla, and a laser-like cherry and plum core. Busy, but integrated tannins, that I’m excited to see get more supple with time.
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura 2004: Possibly my favorite of the group and more suitable for drinking now. Layers of red berries, mushrooms, leather, herbs, and all the hallmarks you’d want of a good Brunello. More, please.
Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura 1998: I’m honestly still grappling with how to draw out and describe older Brunello. It tastes…old. The sourness of the cherries mellows out, the leather gets more worn, the dust settles. After also tasting an ’82 Banfi Brunello in December, I know that I love the stuff, but I think I need more practice to figure out what I’m tasting and what differentiates old Brunello vs. just getting old.
Pig notes: How did Vito get this boar so tender? Juicy and meaty and pork wrapped in pork. Clean plate club.
Baba al Florus, assorted crème
Castello Banfi Florus 2009: 100% Moscadello, late harvest. Apricot and honey.