Paumanok Vineyards: Inspired by Walt… 11/2/14

photo (91)

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.

View of the deck--the day was sunny but quite blustery.

View of the deck–the day was sunny but quite blustery.

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.

photo (93)

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.

photo (73)

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

We liked the merlot.

We liked the merlot.

  1. 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!

Nice glasses, too.

Nice glasses, too.

  1. 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…

  1. 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!

Part of the tasting room

Part of the tasting room

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.

The vines in fall, when most of the grapes have been picked.

The vines in fall, when most of the grapes have been picked.

photo (94)

Paumanok Winery October 27, 2012


“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.