While staying with a longtime friend in Phoenix to take in some spring-training baseball games, my wife and I were delighted to hear that our host had just received an elk tenderloin. Her brother had hunted the beast and offered it to her for our dinner on the final evening of our March visit. I added some sage and thyme to the brine and grilled the inch-thick slab of meat over mesquite, then served it with fingerling potatoes and asparagus roasted in the oven.
What to drink with it? Our host had only a few bottles of wine on her shelf, but I recognized an old friend, Castello Banfi’s Rosso di Montalcino, a reliable, often-charming red from Tuscany. Its style usually favors rich texture and bold fruit, which would complement the gaminess I expected from the elk. The 2008 vintage came off a bit lighter than usual, however, with velvety texture and pretty raspberry, floral and wet earth flavors. I liked its elegance. 88 points, non-blind.
Fortunately, the elk was very mild, too. Its gaminess was muted, closer to the flavors of grass-fed beef than, say, venison. That perfectly suited the wine. Sometimes, despite your best plans, you just have to be lucky. We were.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino 2008 (88, $23).
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