Still Drinking (and Loving) Long Island
This scenic spot off Route 25 on Long Island’s North Fork was our first, and favorite, stop last weekend, and the Chenin Blanc I took home made sure Paumanok’s ranking stayed up there when I opened it alongside a smiple risotto.
The French grape variety, known for its ability to produce a wide spectrum of wines–from sparkling to dessert varieties–tends to be highly acidic, and is widely grown across the globe. For being amenable across climates, it’s a wonder Paumanok is the only chenin blanc producer in New York.
The tart and crisp white I sampled was not what I expected, and a welcome surprise. It’s smell was tart and fruity, with some mineral (read: gravel bank) aromas–but overall not excessively fragrant. In the mouth, it was acidic and crisp with apple notes, and a great lemongrass finish. The lemony flavor was startling and fresh. This wine was like that really cute, bubbly blonde we all know–inexplicably happy and refreshing. It was a delicious, sharp compliment to my savory risotto, and I think it would also go well with fish dishes, or pasta primavera.
Along with the chenin blanc, we tried a spattering of Paumanok’s winners, via their Grand Vintage Flight–a $12 sampler of the 2011 Chenin Blanc, 2011 Sauvingnon Blanc, 2010 Grand Vintage Chardonnay, and the 2007 Assemblage. This flight was higher-priced than some others, but seemed to highlight unique elements of what Paumanok creates,which was the goal of these visits–finding special wines that don’t exist at every corner store in BK.
The 2007 Assemblage was another favorite. This blend, which combines 3 red varieties (primarily Merlot) blew our tastebuds away–it had powerful blackberry and fruit smells, and a wonderfully complex taste. This was a wine that would be great to warm up with aprés ski in front of a roaring fire, or with steak au poivre and candelight. (Though, at $45/bottle, it’s not an every week indulgence.)
Though new to me, this family-run gem has been poppin’ bottles since 1983 (about a decade after the LI wine scene debut) , and produces everything from Riesling to Rosé and back again. We love their space, and that they’ve been highly acclaimed by the Wine Adovcate and Eric Asimov of the NY Times, to name only two.
If you’ve got the chance to go celebrity stalking in LI or taste wine at Paumanok, go with the latter.
Fun Facts: Walt Whitman loved the area, and the his poetry became their namesake, and graces their labels to this day.
Stretch’d and basking!
One side thy inland ocean laving, broad, with copious commerce, steamers, sails.
And one the Atlantic’s wind caressing, fierce or gently – mighty hulls darkgliding in the distance.
Isle of sweet brooks of drinking-water – healthy air and soil!
Isle of the salty shore and breeze and brine!
The Assemblage was given a 91 by the Wine Advocate–the highest rating ever received by an NY winery.
Chenin blancs can have a wide array of flavors–from sparkling to dessert wines, and is the most planted grape in South Africa.
Laura Loves: The outdoor deck–a gorgeous sitting area overlooks the vines and is perfect for a picnic.
The unpretentious tasting room staff, their friendliness was contagious.
The free wine road map, which marked all the North Fork wineries was a great guide.
Know before you go: Tastings are from 11am-5pm, daily, though these hours change seasonally.
Large groups need reservations.
Bottles range from $16.99-$60.00; the ones we loved were on the higher side.