I recently dined at Keen’s Chophouse with some friends for a holiday meal along with several hundred other New Yorkers who clambered to have their ideal holiday meal at one of the city’s most iconic restaurants and what is, in my estimation, the best classic steak house in the NYC (sorry Peter Luger).  Yes, that’s right, the (not so) secret is out.  And even though Peter Luger is within spitting distance to my digs, Keens is where I roll when I am craving the old world, the beef, the ambiance, and great service, or any combination there of. I mean, what other place can you dine that has hosted Elliot Gould, Spencer Christian, and Chuck Norris, amongst countless others.  And while the cuisine remains solid year after year, with house aged cuts, classic sides, and some of the finest service around, the wine list is actually not a boring bunch of overpriced Cali Cabs (thought there are a a few for the punters!).  If you dig a bit, there are not only some really unexpected surprises, but some reasonably priced gems.  I perused the list carefully and as soon as I saw a couple über classic Northern Rhone offerings from Domaine Lionnet and Bernard Levet, I was stopped dead in my tracks.  These are wines which I reckon I have never seen on a wine list.  In fact, I have not seen them since attending a Cornas and Cote Rotie tasting with their importer, the venerated wine gentleman, Neal Rosenthal.

So we went for the two traditional Northern Rhone beauties.  They were both from 2004 and it was great to once again compare Cornas and Cote Rotie side by side.  The Domaine Lionnet 2004 “Terre Brulée” Cornas was all sweet red tart fruits with hints of liquorish.  It was simply delicious and pure and was instantly loved by all.  Bernard Levet’s 2004 “La Chavaroche” Cote Rotie was a whole other thing.  It is a more savage wine with elements ranging more to the meaty red fruits, game, fur, and chestnut.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it, and Neal Rosenthal reckons it is the most consistent wine in his entire portfolio!