Success from the Cellar: The Paumanok 2001 Grand Vintage Reds

21 Aug

In 2005, I spent a glorious summer pouring wine and learning about vid and vino in the tasting room of Paumanok Vineyards Aquebogue, here on the North Fork of Long Island, where wine has become an incredibly important industry over the last 30 years or so.

That year, the 2001 Grand Vintage collection was among the reds we were pouring and selling. One of the things I said, over and over to tasting room visitors was: “These wines are meant to drink now or ten years from now.” I took myself seriously and not only did I drink loads of it “now,” I also bought a number of bottles to store in the basement.

The Bordeaux-style blend – Assemblage – was then a favorite. Over last Christmas, both my father and I opened bottles of it. It was so luscious that I felt the time to open the lot had come, before the lovely tannins and fruit faded.

That was a very significant summer for me and the relationships that I began then are still strong and warm and growing now. What better way to express that to friends then to ask them to share and see what those bottles — a merlot, a cabernet franc and the Assemblage — held inside?

I took a few days off from blogging —  indeed, from cooking! — to visit friends in Greenport, in the wine country. We were staying with my dear friend, Deborah Rivera Pittorino, owner of The Greenporter Hotel chef-owner of its restaurant-wine bar La Cuvee. So she was in, as was my colleague from the tasting room days at Paumanok, Karen Ward Kankel (now doing the sales for the vineyard offsite) and Salim Massoud, one of the sons of the founding family of the vineyard. Later some of the La Cuvee folks, Laura and Werner also joined us.

All the bottles were in good shape — they had been stored on their sides in a relatively cool basement. There was quite a bit of sediment in the Assemblage and cab; not so much in the merlot — the only one we did not decant. We sat on La Cuvée’s outdoor patio and amidst some very good nibbles (oh, lord, the duck spring rolls and plum sauce…) and got to the fun part.

I am not a wine critic, so I will not attempt that now, especially because it is days later and I have no notes to speak of. This was more about enjoyment and fun and conversation. In short, all the wines had developed beautifully; the merlot was still rounded and fruity, the Assemblage was still complex and rich (and still my favorite!) and the cab had very good structure and a fine finish. A pro would have much more to say, but hey, they tasted like that delicious and magnificent  summer of 2005. We savored them and exchanged memories and laughs and didn’t rush. And most importantly, by sharing I was able to demonstrate to my friends how much I value their friendship.

So, if you’ve got any of the Paumanok Grand Vintage wines from 2001, by all means, go ahead and open them (not right this minute necessarily, but they are at a particularly good point in their development and I don’t know how long that will last).

But the whole experience reminded me also, that sometimes it makes more sense to use the fancy crystal, wear the fabulous jewelry, put on the silky lingerie, open the treasured bottle of wine. Why store the good stuff, when you could be enjoying it and creating new memories and experiences and relationships?

So, that’s what I’ve been doing over the last few days…more recipes to come…


2 Responses to “Success from the Cellar: The Paumanok 2001 Grand Vintage Reds”

  1. T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types August 22, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    I finally came to the same conclusion – I was saving all the good stuff, and it seemed like no moment or gathering was quite good enough. Not anymore, and I would gladly crack open one of those bottles to celebrate a beautiful sunset!

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