A few wine lovers, who happen to be LIers, paid a visit to Paumanok Vineyards to take up Charles Massoud’s offer of doing some barrel tasting prior to going to dinner. Kareem Massoud, the winemaker, did the honors of conducting the informative tour and tasting, and we were able to sample the 2004s and 2005s. We nibbled on cheese, sipped, and spit and then headed outside to warm up under the sun and to drink some already bottled whites. Each one, without exception, was a well made and delightful wine. The standout was the 2004 Grand Vintage Chardonnay – well balanced with honey and mineral, showing the potential to age. I would want a few of these in my cellar. I would also relish sipping the off dry Riesling as an aperitif….preferably on my balcony overlooking the Caribbean. Time was slipping away, and we had to make a quick departure to make our reservation at Stonewall’s for dinner.
It was arranged that we would be bringing Bordeaux blends to the restaurant to contrast the style of Paumanok’s stellar, Assemblage. Charles pulled a couple of bottles to fill in the gaps, and started us off with a 2005 Chenin Blanc – crisp and clean, and, I’m told, a previous vintage, has been on the winelist at Masa’s. Following this was a 2000 Kistler Chardonnay, Durell Vineyard – deep golden color – mouth coating, and all about minerals. It was a treat for those of us who ordered the mussels appetizer and could enjoy it with the Kistler. Next up was a blend from Virginia – 1999 Rockbridge – I found it minty, and not the best of the bunch, especially when being poured alongside the 1996 Cinq Cepages –smoky, cherry nose with nicely resolved tannins, and a joy to drink now. One of my favorite Paumanok wines is the 2002 Assemblage – a bouquet of roses on the nose with mouth coating flavors of chocolate, cherries, and a soft lingering finish. I didn’t want to give up my glass of the Cinq Cepages and Assemblage, but next up was the 2001 Ruston Family Vineyards La Maestra – a nose of flowers and ripe fruit – full bodied with cherries and smoke and still some tannins present, and a 1995 Dehlinger Bordeaux Blend – elegant and concentrated and a very fine wine by a producer of mainly Pinots and Syrahs. 1995 Assemblage stole the show for me – it was exciting to drink an eleven year old Long Island Meritage, and was, perhaps, the most Bordeaux like of all the others. There were one or two that I may have missed, but I couldn’t keep up, and enjoyed the ones I was drinking.
It was a wonderful afternoon – Charles and Ursula are the consummate hosts, as well as their son, Kareem. We drank some excellent wines, and enjoyed the company of a few fellow Long Islanders who like to support the efforts of our local producers. Dinner at Stonewall’s was a perfect ending to this glorious afternoon.