(This column appeared in the 12/24 issue of Dan’s Papers)


Picture this: it’s the 1970s and IBM sends you to Kuwait, a country where you couldn’t buy alcohol, to live and work for seven years. What do you do for fun?

If you’re Charles Massoud, co-founder of Paumanok Vineyards, you learn to make your own wine – and then later decide to make winemaking a second career, along with the help of your wife Ursula, who comes from a German winemaking family.

This past summer, Paumanok was named “Winery of the Year” at the New York Wine & Food Classic. The positives of the crown are obvious: recognition for years of hard work and dedication to making world-class wines, increased popularity and, of course, increased sales. 

Barrels2_1But fear not Paumanok fans… the new whites are on the way. A few Saturdays ago, I spent a morning with Massoud at Paumanok’s beautiful tasting room to sample his impressive list of remaining wines. My favorites were the Bordeaux-style blend, 2000 Assemblage ($36) and the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Grand Vintage ($39). But the highlight of and my real reason for the visit were a tasting tour of the wines made from the recently picked 2004 vintage.

Though the wines were still in their infancy, there’s a few that I’m excited about and eagerly awaiting their release.The 2004 Chenin Blanc promises to be a real nice wine. Massoud thinks Chenin Blanc is the “perfect oyster wine” and a relatively cool summer made 2004 a great year for this varietal. With this wine’s zippy acidity, you don’t even need lemon juice or mignonette with your oysters. Paumanok hosted a wildly popular oyster festival last year and plans to do it again this year. Don’t miss it.


Another wine worth mentioning is Paumanok’s first table wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, usually used to make the delightful Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest which, while sweet, offers the lively acidity you’d expect. The 2004 table wine will be light and delicate in the Sancerre style as opposed to the in-your-face New Zealand versions. Paumanok’s 2004 Semi-Dry Riesling is a touch sweet for my palate, but it is filled with light stone fruit flavors and the German influences are already apparent. This will be a big seller, so get a few bottles before the 700 cases are gone.

Massoud expects to release many of his new whites, including those mentioned above and couple different Chardonnays, after the New Year begins. For more information, visit http://www.paumanok.com/ or call 631-722-8800.

This increased popularity led to many of Paumanok’s wines, and all of their whites, selling out quickly. That’s bad news for all you Riesling lovers, because Massoud makes two of the best on the Island.