Alma’s Vino Club Blog

Paumanok 90s Merlot Vertical Dinner at Paumanok with Chef Keith Luce By almanoir

On a cold first Saturday of Spring evening, Paul and I headed to the North Fork of Long Island to join the lovely Massaud Family, owners of Paumanok Vineyards who hosted this fabulous  Merlot Vertical dinner with Luce & Hawkins chef Keith Luce at their premises.

 An evening of  earthy flavors and unmatched wine exploration of the early years of Paumanok.    An intimate magical night full of details and personal stories that touched the heart, soul and palet of every lucky attendant.

Paumanok Merlot 1993
Paumanok Merlot 1998
Paumanok Merlot 1990
On arrival, guests were greeted with the sun setting over the Vineyards paired with a glass of Paumanok’s Chenin Blanc 2010, setting the mood for a great event.  Below are a few taste notes and menu highlights.

Gouger/Wild Mushroom Jam with Paumanok 1990 Merlot.

As we drank and ate away, Charles Massoud recalled his vivid memories of their early years.  On his guidance, filled with excitement and a bit of nervousness, we tasted this 20+ year-old wine to discover how time has aged it.   Charles mentioned he was 46 at that time.     The brick-redish Merlot was earthy with smoky notes finishing a bit acidic but showing good body exquisitely paired with the Mushroom Jam Gouger.  Chef Keith does not leave any details to chance enchanting us with great flavors and small details such a delicate cress flower on each plate.

Crescent Duckling Confit “Pannequet” Bacon, Cherry and Juniper Glace with Paumanok 1993 Merlot, Grand Vintage.

Charles explained that the 1993 Merlot harvest produced dark, high concentration juices he had not seen before.   He knew then that 1993 would be a special vintage thus the paumanok Grand Vintage was born.

To enjoy this wine, Chef Keith created this Duckling crape to surprise us and impressed his vision of simplicity yet complex flavors.  This was a match made in heaven.  This well-balanced Merlot had a long-lasting finish with dark fruit flavors, jam, a touch of caramel with earthy tones.   I am thirsty!

Garlic and Herb Scented Lamb Loin Root Vegetables, Consommé and Lavender; Foie Gras “Powder” with Paumanok 1995 Merlot, Grand Vintage.

Charles recalled the 1995 Pine Barren’s fire, one of the hottest summers on Long Island.    He stated that 1995 is perhaps the best vintage Paumanok has ever had.    The wine is a lush, smoky and meaty with a long and well-balanced finish.

Luce & Hawkins Chevre Bouton Milk Bread and Dried Fruit and Nut Salad with Paumanok 1998 or 1999.

Chef Keith’s love of natural ingredients and going back to basics philosophy was evident in the absolutely amazing goat cheese Bouton.     He made this cheese with fresh goat milk from local farmers.    On the wine side, guests had a selection of either Paumanok 1998 or 1999.    Paumanok does not have enough bottles of these vintages to accomodate all guests.   Paul and I shared our glasses and we had an oppotunity to try both wines.

Charles was intrigued by the compairson of the two wines mentioning how thirsty 1998 was in contrast of a quite rainy 1999.   As I tasted the two, the 1999 Merlot was fruitier than the 1998 – how interesting!   The 1998 had more earthy tones and was my favorite of the two.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Candied Pancetta, Pine Nut and Olive Condiment with Paumanok 1997 Merlot.

A great finish to a great start.   Chef Keith’s creativity and genius put together in this wonderful mixture of flavors that I never thought would work together: bacon and chocolate and olives in harmony to bring out the best on the 1997 Merlot.   According to Charles, 1997 was not a great year.  This Merlot was a good surprise to him having aged nicely “..perhaps the wines have aged more gracefully than myself”.

The wine evoque fruit clarity, crisp with touches of cinnamon.

The Massoud family show their passion and love for the craft on everything they do.   They are an inspiration and an oddity now a days when business competes with the craft.   They are able to keep true to their passion and bring to us an intimate experience that it is not found anywhere else.

I reviewed my wine diary and found my first tasting was Paumanok Assamblage 2001 and Paumanok Merlot 2000 Grand Vintage.   I am hooked since then.  Thank You Paumanok.   Please give us more.

Happy Tastings.

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