Paumanok Vineyards was one of the really great places that I had the chance of discovering in Long Island, last year, when I attended Tastecamp East, a gathering of bloggers organized by Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report. Not only were there excellent wines to be tasted, but the Massouds, the family who runs that vineyard, were as charming as they were knowledgeable.
One of the best and most surprising wines I tasted there – and I’m not alone in thinking this – was their 2008 Chenin Blanc. Not only was it delicious on its own merits, it also had the distinction of being the closest thing to great Loire chenin blanc I’ve tasted from this side of the Atlantic. A beautiful balance of freshness and richness, with a touch of that lanolin (or, less elegantly, wet wool) character that is so typical of that grape, one of the wine world’s excessively well-kept secret.
After a recent trip to Long Island, I had the chance to pick up a bottle of the 2009 Chenin at the winery, and I have to say the pleasure was still as great the second time around. Still that remarkable balance between fresh and rich, and a beautiful set of aromas and flavors that lingered nicely on the palate. Guess I should have picked up a couple more bottles to put them in the cellar, to see how it would age.
What I do have in the cellar, however, is a bottle of their 2005 Apollo Drive Vineyard Petit Verdot, which felt just as remarkable as the chenin blanc – and definitely worth cellaring, to let it soften up a bit and yield its whole set of flavors more openly. It felt very deep and serious, and quite original – there just isn’t enough varietal petit verdot on the market.
I also picked up, thanks to the generosity of winemaker Kareem Massoud, a bottle of the 2007 cabernet franc which tasted so wonderful when we tasted barrel samples of it during Tastecamp. Ripe, full, expressive, it was – like all the 2007 reds, really – an expression of just how good Long Island reds can be when the climate cooperates. Samples of petit verdot, merlot and cabernet sauvignon were just as convincing.
Wines from cooler years are quite fine too, as I tasted in a comparative tasting of the 2006 cabernet franc under natural cork and under screwcap (see notes on that here). It was ripe, tasty, with flavors that were slightly more fruity under screwcap. Frankly, I’d be happy to have these wines every vintage. And I’m not even mentioning the late harvest sauvignon blanc that Kareem Massoud has maturing in an oak barrel in the cellar…