Maybe people were bewaring the Ides of March (about to arrive), or it could have just been a typical winter weekday on the North Fork, but we had the tasting room of Paumanok all to ourselves. The last time we were there it was a warm, sunny fall day, and we sat outside on the weathered wood deck with family members and their dog, sharing a cheese tray. That pleasant experience might have influenced how we felt about the wines, which we liked better that time.
The tasting menu offers four options: Winemaker Picks, four for $20; Whites, four for $18, Reds, four for $20, or Festival, four for $15. We decided to share the Winemaker Picks, since that would give us two reds and two whites. Our enthusiastic and well-informed server set the tastings up on a labeled tray, so we could have carried them to a table, but we opted to stand at the bar so we could discuss the wines.
As we sipped and chatted, she poured us two glasses of water so we could clear our palates.
There’s also a fairly extensive snack menu, and they do not allow outside food or drink. However, as we learned last time, they do allow leashed dogs on the outside patio. By the way, all the wines except the very high-end ones use screw caps, a boon to waitpersons.
- 2014 Blanc de Blancs $55
The aroma reminded me of the inside of a bakery—very yeasty. This sparkling wine (made by the traditional méthode champenoise) is dry and light, with nice bubbles. Made from 100% chardonnay, it is easy to drink, lemony and yeasty, if somewhat monochromatic. It would go nicely with charcuterie, but I don’t think I’d like it on its own, as a toast. That said, I’d be more likely to get a Cava or Prosecco, for the price.
- 2018 Chenin Blanc $39
Although the server asserted that they are the only ones to make a 100% chenin blanc wine in New York State, I happen to know that One Woman recently made one as well. However, her 50 cases would be easy to overlook, so I wouldn’t bother to correct Paumanok. The aroma is somewhat cellar-like, and the taste has a touch of wet rock, but also lemon and tangerine. This is a light, dry white that would go well with Coquilles St. Jacques, made with Peconic Bay scallops. We like it.
- 2014 Merlot $39
This is aged 12-14 months in neutral oak, so it is a fairly light red. It has some of that dirt aroma merlots tend to have out here, with a touch of cherry. We’re not fond of the taste, which I liken to licking a metal pole (not that I was ever dumb enough to lick a metal pole in freezing weather). Though it might be okay with food, we share with the server that we find it lacking in fruit and so tannic that it is mouth-puckering. So she offers us an additional wine.
- 2013 Grand Vintage Merlot $50
This is an extra, so our server can show us how they can make a better merlot. Yes, indeed. This has depth, nice fruit with cherry flavors that are nonetheless dry. Very nice.
- 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon $39
Nice aroma, we say, combining dark fruit and cedar closet. It is described on the menu as medium bodied, and I would agree. It is a pleasant wine, with no depth but good dark fruit tastes and some tannins. It could go with lamb chops, we decide.
- 2016 Petit Verdot $40
I tend to like petit verdots, so I ask our server to add this additional taste to our flight. I like this one, too. It has a red candy aroma, and tastes of prunes (not stewed) and other dark fruits. Dry, with some nice tannins, it has what my husband describes as “more oomph” than the other reds.
Reasons to visit: nice outdoor deck where you can bring your dog; good menu of snacks; the Chenin Blanc and the Petit Verdot; screw tops; we’ve always had nice servers here.