Paumanok Vineyards:  Poetry and the Vines        September 29, 2017

https://www.paumanok.com/history.html

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As a lover of poetry, I can’t help but be attracted to a winery that not only uses the Native American name Walt Whitman adopted for Long Island, but also quotes his poetry on their labels.  Their pleasant outdoor deck overlooking the vines is another reason to go there, and some of the wines are not bad, either!

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It was a perfect day to sit on the outdoor deck.

We went there with my brother and sister-in-law and their large well-behaved dog on a warm sunny day in September, and were happy to discover that they allow leashed dogs on the deck.  Our table was next to a bush full of Monarch butterflies, and my sister-in-law informed me it was a butterfly bush.  Aha.  We did have to walk inside for each new taste, but that also gave us a chance to chat with the servers, who were all quite pleasant, including one young woman from France, who informed us that Paumanok has an internship program with her school in Toulouse.  So that explains why the last time I was there I also had a French server.

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If you look closely, you’ll see the butterflies all over this butterfly bush.

The menu offers a flight of four whites or four reds, each for $12, so we decided each couple would share a flight of the whites and then the reds.  Because my brother bought at least four bottles of wine, the tastings were free.  The menu includes other options, which let you taste their sweet wines, their rosés, and their “Grand Vintage,” or premium wines.  Almost all of their wines have screw tops, so if you are cork-averse, these are a good option.

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The servers were all quite pleasant and helpful.

We also decided to get the Lombardi cheese and salami board for $20, which included a small loaf of bread, olives, dried apricots, and fig cake.  They have a small menu of other snacks, and don’t allow outside food.

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Our snack tray, moment before we decimated it. No outside food is allowed.

  1. 2016 Chenin Blanc         $28

Our server proudly pointed out that this is their signature wine, and that theirs is the only completely estate-grown chenin blanc in New York State.  They have reason to be excited about this wine, which we all really liked.  The aroma is grassy and herbal, and the taste starts fruity with citrus at the end, plus notes of minerality.  My brother said it was “like a mountain stream running over granite.”  We decided it would be good with food, and found that to be true that evening when we had it with scallop ceviche and grilled striped bass.  We bought the fish at Braun’s, of course.

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  1. 2015 Festival Chardonnay $18.99

As I surmised, given its position in the flight, this is their steel-fermented chard.  My sister-in-law found the aroma sweet, and I thought maybe like orange blossoms.  My brother agreed, but added steel pipes.  It’s quite dry and light, and evanesces quickly.  I said like putting your tongue on a flagpole.  We had some disagreement as to how much we liked it, though we thought it would be good with food.  My husband suggested mac and cheese, I mentioned carbonara, and my brother said it reminded him of an Italian wine.  My sister-in-law didn’t like the after-taste.

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The menu says the pour is a half to one ounce, but it seemed more generous than that to me.

  1. 2015 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $24

Because they use neutral French oak barrels for the eight months of fermentation, this is lighter and not as strongly butter-scotchy as some oaked chards.  We found if quite pleasant, with aromas of vanilla and butterscotch and a taste that we compared to caramel cone ice cream with a lemony finish.  Of course, it would go well with roast chicken.

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  1. 2016 Dry Riesling $22

One of the servers was particularly well-informed, and she let us know that this riesling has no residual sugars.  The shorter the fermentation time, she told us, the drier the riesling.  We liked this white, too.  The aroma combines honeysuckle with a touch of something chemical, perhaps camphor.  It hits the tongue with tart fruit, including greengage plums and some apricot.  You wouldn’t necessarily identify it as a riesling from taste alone, we decided, and you wouldn’t want it with spicy food.  But it might be very good with charcuterie.

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  1. 2015 Festival Red $19.99

Now we switched to the reds, which they poured into the same glasses we had used for the whites.  This is a blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon and 48% merlot, with aromas of cherry and black current, plus spice.  Nutmeg?  It’s very dry and light, and our comments included “not much there,” “not enough fruit,” and “no complexity.”  My sister-in-law detected something “chalky” at the end.  We were not excited, though it is drinkable.

  1. 2015 Cabernet Franc $28

Ooh, we liked this one much better.  Aromas of plums, leather, tobacco, and dark chocolate and tastes of complex fruits made this our favorite of the reds.  It has some tannins, and is elegant, not earthy.  We thought it would go well with venison, and my brother bought some bottles of it.

  1. 2013 Merlot $28

As usual, the merlot smells like black cherry and tastes like cherries and other dark stone fruits.  First my brother said it would be a good burger wine, but then he said, “The more I drink it the less I like it.”  My husband joked, “That doesn’t sound like a good business plan.”  The wine is light and rather monochromatic.

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  1. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon $28

The aroma is similar to the cabernet franc, but the taste is not as good.  No depth, we agree, and though it has dark fruit tastes there is no complexity.  My sister-in-law says it has a “watery” finish.  Meh.

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The tasting room is nice, but rather small.

Reasons to visit:  lovely outdoor deck with views over the vineyards; pleasant servers; the Chenin Blanc and, to a lesser extent, the other whites; the Cabernet Franc; you can bring your dog if you sit outside.

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The prettily rustic entrance

 

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Do the surroundings influence how a wine tastes? We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

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We enjoyed the view across the vines.

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She’s much too polite to ask for any, but my sister-in-law and brother’s dog thought the cheese tray smelled pretty good.

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Paumanok: A Bit of a French Accent 8/29/15

https://www.paumanok.com/

Watch for the oyster sign!

Watch for the oyster sign!

“We have the only chenin blanc in New York State,” asserts our server, so we are interested to taste the wine made from this French grape.   But more about that later.  On this beautiful late summer afternoon, the outside deck is filled with small groups enjoying the weather and Paumanok’s menu of raw oysters ($25 for a dozen) or large variety of cheese or charcuterie plates from Catapano goat farm and Lombardi’s Market.

Most people elected to sit outside on this beautiful day.

Most people elected to sit outside on this beautiful day.

The tasting room is small, but we manage to find room at the bar where we assess our choices.  The tasting menu lists nine options, from one taste of their sparkling wine to four whites or four reds for $12 each flight.  We opt to share one of each, but that still does not get us tastes of all their wines, in particular most of the Festival line.  Maybe next year.  The sign outside says “Winery of the Year,” but I’m not sure what that is based on.  However, it is a pleasant place, especially in the good weather when you can sit outside; the wines, while none of them send us into outer space, are fine; and I have to favor a place that quotes Walt Whitman on their labels (Walt, born on Long Island, liked to use the Native American name for Long Island—Paumanok—in his poetry.).  The gift area has a small selection of t-shirts and other gift items, but no volumes of Whitman’s poems!

The menu of tastings

The menu of tastings

  1. 2014 Sauvignon Blanc                    $24

If we had decided to have oysters, this is the wine I would have chosen to have with them.  The aroma is grassy and minerally, the taste tart and lemony with some tropical fruit notes.  Excellent.

Our first two tastes

Our first two tastes

  1. 2014 Chenin Blanc $28

I suppose because the bar is crowded, our server pours our tastes two at a time, which is good, because the wines are too cold, so our deliberate style of tasting—sniff, discuss, take notes, swirl, taste, discuss, take more notes—gives them time to warm up a bit. This is also a pleasant wine, a touch sweeter than the Sauvignon Blanc, with not much smell.  We decide we taste some sweet orange, perhaps tangelo.  A nice light summer wine, and you wouldn’t want to pair it with any food that was too assertive, as it would get lost.

A good oaked chardonnay if you don't like oaked chardonnays.

A good oaked chardonnay if you don’t like oaked chardonnays.

  1. 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $24

Our charmingly French-accented server points out that they have a steel-fermented chard on the Festival list, as we discuss the differences between steel versus oak and what we like about each.  We also notice that almost all the wines have screw caps, a boon to the corkscrew-use-challenged.  This is not overly oaky, with a toasty aroma and some vanilla taste, but not too sweet.  “A crowd pleaser,” we decide.  I think it would pair well with shrimp.

The riesling about which we disagreed.

The riesling about which we disagreed.

  1. 2014 Dry Riesling $22

My husband, a riesling fan, doesn’t particularly care for this one, which he finds not “riesling enough.”  I like it.  It has a bit of that cat pee aroma, plus some apple.  Our server says it has green apple tastes, and we agree, and would add a touch of Key lime citrus.  Simple and refreshing, this is a good riesling if you are not particularly a riesling fan.

  1. 2014 Semi-Dry Riesling $20

If you are counting, you realize that this is our fifth out of four white wine tastes, which we get courtesy of our server who, noticing our seriousness, wants us to try a different style of riesling and gives us a small sample of a wine from a different flight.  This is fairly sweet, almost candy-like, also relatively simple, and not to our taste—but it might go well with Thai food.

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  1. 2012 Festival Red $20

The label says this “should be enjoyed with red meat,” but I would say not too red.  Maybe pork chops or veal or a cheese plate, as it would not stand up to a big steak.  A blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon and 48% merlot, this has a slightly piney aroma and is quite drinkable.  It is mellow, not complex, with a touch of tannin.  “I get a tingle on my tongue,” says my drinking pal.

  1. 2012 Merlot $24

Eh.  No aroma, not much taste,rather underwhelming.  Pischochs, I say, which my husband says I can’t use in a review.  It’s a Yiddish term meaning…watery.

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  1. 2013 Cabernet Franc $30

One of the servers gives us some more information on this wine, noting that 2013 was a very good year, and that this wine, a combination of mostly cabernet franc with “a touch of merlot,” drinks more like a pinot noir than a cab.  I would agree.  It is another nice wine, with a bit of a funky and blackberry smell and cherry and berry taste.  It’s not powerful, though it has some depth.

  1. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon $30

Our server, who reveals she is from Toulouse, is pleased when we note that this is actually a Bordeaux blend, a mixture of 16% merlot, 2% petit verdot, and 86% cabernet sauvignon.  After she steps away we add to each other “Bordeaux light.”  Aromas of cherry, oak and red candy; tastes of red fruit, maybe plums, pleasantly dry.  Not a serious wine, we decide, but like almost all the wines we tried, fine.

At this point, we notice that there is no tip jar, which is too bad, since we would definitely have left a nice tip.  If we had elected to buy four bottles the cost of one tasting would have been deducted from the total, but we decide we don’t want any of the wines enough to buy four bottles.  However, there is nothing wrong with any of them (except that merlot!), so I wouldn’t cross this winery off your list if you were planning a visit.  It is particularly a good place to sit outside and get one of their food items with a glass of wine.  I’d recommend the Sauvignon Blanc with oysters or the Festival Red or Cabernet Sauvignon with a cheese or charcuterie plate.

I love that they quote Walt Whitman on the label!

I love that they quote Walt Whitman on the label!

Reasons to visit:  the Sauvignon Blanc, the only Chenin Blanc in New York State, the Festival Red, the Cabernet Sauvignon; a nice outside deck where you can enjoy their cheese or charcuterie or oysters with a glass of wine; labels that quote Walt Whitman.

One view of the outside deck.

One view of the outside deck.

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Paumanok Winery October 27, 2012

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http://www.paumanok.com/

“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.