Posh Goes Kosh | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Posh Goes Kosh

Paumanok Vineyards

Paumonok goes kosher with the help of AY wines

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“We aim to make the wine that the winemaker is already producing kosher,” said Ari Lockspeiser, co-owner and manager of the New Jersey-based AY Wines.

One of the newest players in the domestic kosher wine market, AY Wines sources, facilitates, imports, and distributes limited runs of kosher versions of popular wines from respected non-kosher wineries. AY Wines was established in 2016, with their first wines hitting the market last year from the 2017 vintage.

Through AY Wines, the acclaimed Paumanok Vineyards began producing 200 cases of kosher versions of three of their wines starting with the 2017 vintage, and then another 200 cases with the current 2018 vintage. The kosher editions are mercifully priced in line with the non-kosher editions.

Lockspeiser met Paumonok’s Kareem Massoud at the Matter of Taste tasting event in New York. Massoud is the winemaker of the family-owned and critically celebrated Paumanok Vineyards in North Fork, Long Island.

“I was there searching for potential producers,” remembered Lockspeiser,” My thinking was, with so many kosher consumers in the NY area, how could there not be a quality kosher wine from New York?” When Massoud showed some interest—or rather, when he didn’t dismiss out of hand the idea of a kosher run, Paumanok became AY Wines’ first target of opportunity.

To put this in context for those unfamiliar with Paumanok, Eric Asimov of The New York Times commented in a 2015 article on American Chenin Blanc varietal wines: “Year in and year out, this is one of the best American Chenin Blancs around...Paumanok’s from the North Fork of Long Island stands out as delicious on almost any scale you choose.”

Paumanok Vineyards was founded in 1983 by Ursula and Charles Massoud, with their three sons: Kareem, Salim, and Nabeel. Kareem, now the winemaker, was just 10 years old when his folks ventured out of suburban Connecticut to begin planting vines on their recently acquired potato farm in Aquebogue, on the North Fork. Today, the 127-acre Paumanok Vineyards is one of the premier wineries in the North Fork.

“Once Kareem said he was open to the idea,” recalls Lockspeiser, “I trekked out to Paumanok and we discussed it at length; he consulted with the rest of the family,” and “thankfully they were willing to let us do a kosher run, including of their flagship Chenin Blanc wine.”

“The goal [of AY Wines],” said Lockspeiser, “is to facilitate—from harvest to bottling—kosher wines that the winemaker will be proud of and that the consumer will love.” Ultimately the idea is to expand the kosher wine market, and the knowledge and experiences available to kosher consumers. Currently all their wines are OU certified, and they are also pursuing additional kosher supervision to cater to an even wider frum audience.

AY Wines has several other wine projects from Spain and Washington state coming soon, but for right now Paumanok is it.

Without further ado:

Paumanok Vineyards, Kosher Festival Chardonnay, 2018 (around $26): This thoroughly delicious if somewhat steely unoaked Chard is poised, taut, invigorating, and immensely appealing with fresh aromas of citrus, peach, and white blossom, and crisp citrus and stone-fruit flavors. Will make for great summer drinking, too, if you can wait that long.

Paumanok Vineyards, Dry Riesling, kosher edition, 2018 (around $26): The bouquet presented at first with an oddly muted core of fruit—nectarine, apricot, honey-crisp apple, and Anjou pear—enveloped in a somewhat buoyant frame of jasmine, lilies, lime-peel, and grapefruit pith. Within 20 minutes or so it all harmonized very nicely, leading to somewhat bracing but refreshing and tasty flavors of lime, green apple, white apricot, and subtle minerality. The fruit is a touch austere, rather than indulgently fruity, but the fine balance with the vibrant acidity keeps it all hugely enjoyable and appetite inducing.

Paumanok Vineyards, Chenin Blanc, kosher edition, 2018 (around $28): Fresh, crisp, and sippy with grapefruit, lemon, granny smith apples, guava, melon, and perhaps a little pineapple, and with a driving minerality that helps ground the slight sweetness and balances the zesty almost electric acidity. Lovely, refreshing, and summery.


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