I discovered Paumanok Vineyards last January when the New York Cork Report team graciously invited me, my husband Marc and Markus Stolz (the guru of Greek wines) to join them for a lunch and tasting at the winery.
When we arrived, a large table had been set up in the winery itself, only a few feet away from the stainless steel tanks. More than a dozen bottles lay in the center of the table, most of them unlabeled – I felt my heart quiver.
The owner, Charles Massoud, and his winemaker son, Kareem, spoke for more than two hours about what it’s like to make wines in the North Fork of Long Island. Many stories were told, punctuated by laughter and pours around the table.
When my nose wasn’t in my glass, it was deep in my notebook. There’s much I’d love to share about what was said that day, and I’ll certainly do so in future posts. But today, my focus is on Paumanok’s delectable 2008 Cabernet Franc.
“Our best wines,” said Kareem, “are made in warm, dry years. The weather trumps everything when it comes to wine quality. This is when our minimalist approach comes in. If the wine is good, then we leave it alone… The weather is the one factor that’s beyond our control. I have a lot of respect for it.”
As it turns out, 2008 was not a warm, dry year on the North Fork. But regardless of the weather, the ’08 Cabernet Franc turned out to be a beautiful wine. (The winery gives detailed notes on the growing and winemaking process of this vintage.)
Paumanok Vineyards, Cabernet Franc 2008
Producer: Paumanok Vineyards
Appellation: North Fork of Long Island
Grapes: 78% Cabernet Franc, 22% Merlot
Decant for 1 hour
The vibrant ruby color of the ‘08 Cabernet Franc sparkles with every swirl, and aromas of black cherry, prune and pomegranate juice concentrate rise from the glass. At first taste the aromas fill the mouth and intensify while revealing hints of licorice, spice, tobacco and cedar. This wine is earthy, not too heavy, wonderfully balanced, and rolls in the mouth.
It paired magnificently with the grilled cheese sandwich with garlic confit and baby arugula, its earthiness matching that of the melted cheese and garlic confit. But however thrilling it is to find a pairing that works so well, what’s striking about the ’08 Cabernet Franc is how incredibly versatile it is.
Every wine-loving household should have their own “house wine” — the kind you always have on hand, that’s great quality, not too expensive and that works with whatever you’re serving. Paumanok’s ‘08 Cabernet Franc fits that bill — it is approachable, graceful, delightful. Drinking it makes me long to taste the wines Paumanok has produced in warm, dry years.