Whitman, that is, who liked to use the Native American name for Long Island—Paumanok—in his poems. The Massoud family owns and runs the vineyard, with all three sons playing active roles, as we discovered when we chatted with our server, Salim Massoud, who agreed that he very much resembles a cartoon image of his father we noticed on the wall. The tasting room is pleasant and a comfortable size—not too big, not too small (they require large or limo parties to reserve in advance)—plus there is an outdoor deck. The last time we were here, just before Superstorm Sandy, we sat out on the deck and had oysters with a glass of wine, but this time it is too chilly. They also offer a menu of local cheeses (from Catapano and Mecox), charcuterie, and dishes from The Petulant Wino, and do not allow outside food or drinks.
The tasting menu offers a number of options: the Festival Flight of 4 wines for $6, two of which are sweet; the Paumanok Flight of 5 wines for $15; the Single Vineyard flight of 2 wines for $10, and the Sweets Flight of 3 sweet wines for $10. We decide we will each get a Paumanok flight, and then share a Single Vineyard flight. All their wines, by the way, come in screw top bottles, which some feel is the future of all wines.
As we carefully sniff and sip and I take notes, another couple at the tasting bar becomes interested. This is their first time at a tasting, and their server does a great job of gently introducing them to the mores of this rather ritualized activity. He asks carefully about their preferences, and customizes a tasting for them. We explain that smelling the wine adds another element of appreciation, and agree with their server that how wine tastes is both a subjective and an objective matter.
- 2012 Chardonnay $24
This is a slightly oaked chard, so we sniff and note butterscotch. Taste? Oak, melon, maybe kiwi, with tart citrus at the end. Not too buttery, and also not a sipper, but we could see having this with chicken fajitas or grilled tuna.
- 2013 Dry Riesling $22
When my husband asks if these grapes come from upstate, Salim proudly notes that all of their wines are made from their own grapes. We smell honeysuckle, and the wine is fairly dry, with some complexity. Layers of fruit and tart, I think, with some tastes of Seville oranges. Not long ago I made turkey Weiner Schnitzel, and I think this would have gone very well with that.
- 2012 Cabernet Franc $24
Because of the difficulties of the 2012 harvest, Salim notes, this has ended up being a very light cabernet franc. In fact, if he hadn’t told us this, we might not have guessed it was a cab franc at all. It has a strawberry aroma, like a rosé, no depth and little fruit. I suggest if one had a bottle of this on one’s hands one could make sangria.
- 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $24
Although it is also a 2012, the cab sauv is much better, with slight berry aroma and ripe plum taste, dry, with nice tannins. I decide it would go well with Swedish meatballs, which I recently made for a party.
- 2010 Merlot $28
Clearly the menu saved the best for last. This is a good example of a typical Long Island merlot, with a woodsy and cherry aroma and a cherry taste. No dirt!
- 2010 Merlot Tuthills Lane $75
Believe it or not, I think this smells like a bandaid. On the other hand, it tastes really good, with lots of cherry flavors, dry, but, despite what they describe as “voluminous tannins,” we don’t sense much in the way of tannins. The pour, by the way, is generous enough that we are happy to each get half of it in our glasses, so we can share this tasting. This time my husband had the cold…
- 2010 Petit Verdot Apollo Drive $75
This is the second of our Single Vineyard flight, and is also quite good. “This is aged 16 months in French oak,” notes Salim. Sniff. M&Ms? Maybe also nutmeg. Lots of dark berry tastes and nice tannins, dry, but with plenty of fruit tastes. We like this one, but not at $75 per bottle!
Reasons to visit: the 2010 Petit Verdot Apollo Drive, the 2013 Dry Riesling, the nice menu of snacks, a pleasant setting, oysters on Saturdays during the summer, helpful servers if you are a newbie.