1986 Chianti (trading notes at Keens)

Above: old, traditionally vinified Sangiovese and grilled aged beef is perhaps one of the world’s most felicitous combinations and made our table very happy the other night at Keens Steakhouse in midtown.

One of my favorite things about Keens Steakhouse is the restaurant’s stationery. Its check presenters are adorned with Goreyesque imagery and there are “note pads” deposited at each table by the waitstaff (“Notes taken while at Keens”). We felt like school kids the other night when we met there for a porterhouse paired with old Chianti and began passing notes with savory and sometimes salacious commentary.

The star of the evening was a 1986 Chianti Classico Riserva by Castell’in Villa that we had brought ourselves. Words cannot describe how well this traditionally vinified Sangiovese paired with the meat: a seemingly divine combination of fruit and tannins that cut exquisitely through the juicy fat and richness of the beef.

And in what is sure to earn an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, a 2000 Corton-Charlemagne by Olivier Lefaive performed wondrously. I’d never tasted this cru and as wrong as it seemed to pair it with my Caesar salad (topped with marinated anchovies), the match was spectacularly delicious. The wine had a seductively unctuous mouthfeel and a delicate balance of mineral flavors and subtle white stone fruit.

Above: the spirit was glib if not goliardic that night.

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