“Blow, blow sea winds along Paumanock’s shores/I wait and I wait till you blow my mate to me!”–Walt Whitman
Who knew that our visit to the Paumanok tasting room a day before hurricane Sandy would come to seem so prophetic, since as we arrived there I quoted the above lines from a poem by Whitman about a lovelorn seagull. He liked to use the old Native American name for Long Island, and so, apparently, does this vineyard.
Paumanok had somewhat fallen off our radar because it is not included in a map of the wineries published by a wine growers association. According to our well-informed and intelligent server, some years they choose to join, and some they don’t. In any event, their Festival Red had been mentioned in an article on $20 wines by Eric Asimov, so we decided to check them out.
The tasting room is a pleasant, barn-like space, with a tasting bar that could be bigger and a large patio area outside. They offer four different tasting options (aside, of course, from the usual by the glass or bottle prices): Festival Flight, $8 for 4 (mixed red and white); Paumanok White, $9 for 3; Paumanok Red, $12 for 3; or Grand Vintage, $15 for 4. We opted for one Festival and one Grand Vintage flight, and our server re-arranged the order of the wines to maximize the correct tasting order.
1. 2011 Festival Chardonnay $16.99
This is a light “spritzy” white, with lovely green apple or pear blossom aromas and tastes of pears and minerals. Nicely tart.
2. 2011 Semi-Dry Riesling $19.99 AND 2011 Dry Riesling $22 (not actually on on the tasting, but she gives it to us so we can compare)
Hmmm…the aroma of the semi-dry reminds us of some goldenrod honey friends of our made, and so does the taste. Pleasant, but we prefer the dry one.
How interesting that the same grape can give such different results! The Dry Riesling has an aroma of lemon-lime, with lots of flavors, some flower, some gooseberry. Excellent and very buyable!
3. 2011 Dry Rose $17.99
They blend all four of their reds–merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot–for this pleasant rose. The aroma reminds us of wet grout (Next time you repair your bathroom tiles, see what you think of that smell.), and there is the typical strawberry taste of a rose.
4. 2011 Festival Red $19.99
This is a blend of the same four reds, and is the one mentioned in the Asimov article (as our server also points out). Well, we agree–this is a very buyable and good red, with blackberry and some spice flavor, with some tannin. It reminds us of another everyday red we like, Red Rooster from Old Field.
5. 2010 Assemblage $50
This, clearly, is from the Grand Vintage tasting, and is very good, but not worth the price. It is a blend, with 21% petit verdot, so it is a fairly big red. Perhaps with time…?
6. 2010 Cabernet Franc Grand Vintage $45
Interestingly, the aroma of this one once again reminds us of goldenrod honey. The taste, however, is of cherry, with some woody notes, and is very fresh. Our server notes that it will age well. Good.
7. 05 Cabernet Sauvignon Tuthills Lane Vineyard $60
They have three different parcels of land (of about 30 acres each), so this one is named for the particular place where the vines are grown. The aroma is cherry and mineral, and the wine is dry but soft, with some lovely fruit flavors. We are informed that Robert Parker gave it a 90, and the quote from him is almost delirious. Perhaps he got a bit carried away?
8. 07 Merlot Tuthills Lane Vineyard $60
Not much aroma to this one, with some fruit/berry taste and some wood. Parker (according to the tasting menu) described the taste as “cherry pit” and gave it a 92. Not sure why.
But wait, there’s more! Out on the patio, in the calm before the storm, they are selling platters of oysters, $20 for a dozen. So we buy two glasses of the Dry Riesling ($6 each) and pay for a plate of oysters and enjoy the late October sun on the patio as we gaze out at the vineyard. The oysters are wonderful–essence of ocean! Too good to even need a squirt of lemon, they are fresh and brimming with liquid, and come, we are told, from Peconic Bay right near Southold. The wine goes perfectly with them, and I decide this is a great way to start celebrating my birthday (which I will continue that evening with dinner at Noah’s in Greenport).
Reasons to visit: Pleasant tasting room with well-informed servers (and buses and limos by appointment only); Festival Red, Dry Riesling; oysters if they have them.