By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

Paumanok_09festchardAs I mentioned last week, there really are some terrific values to be had on Long Island — even in the $15 range.

For the most part, Long Island's best $15 wines are chardonnay based and are fermented either mostly or entirely in steel. That's because there's a lot of chardonnay grown here (it's the second most-planted grape after merlot) and by eschewing oak barrels, winemakers can keep their costs down significantly.

Paumanok Vineyards can always be counted on for at least two value wines, their "Festival" labels, which include a red blend and a chardonnay.

For the first time, the Paumanok Vineyards 2009 Festival Chardonnay ($15) features a percentage of sauvignon blanc and it comes through as a ruby grapefruit note on the nose, along with ripe Meyer lemon.

Dry, fruity and straightforward, the palate is all lemons and grapefruit with a subtle note of banana candy on the mid-palate.

Zesty acidity makes this another lively choice for summer sipping, though a slightly pithy note at the end of the finish is a little bitter when the wine is over-chilled. Of course, you should never over-chill white wines.

Bonus points for summer sipping go to this wine for it's screwcap closure — no corkscrew needed at the beach or by the pool.

Producer: Paumanok Vineyards
AVA: North Fork of Long Island
Price: $15*
(3 out of 5 | Recommended) 
(*Ratings Guide)