You’ll find a lot of “Bordeaux blends” on the North Fork. Most wineries produce them and if they don’t wear Meritage on the label, they often have other proprietary names. Like with any other category of wine from any region there are the good examples, mediocre examples and, yes, bad examples — although there are far fewer of those these days.
You’ll also find a wide variation in the grapes that go into these wines. Merlot is often the bulk of the blend (there’s more merlot here than any other red grape), but the proportion of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot can vary greatly. Some will use all five grapes. Others only a couple.
These blends really show off the talent of the winemaker. Wine is made in the vineyard, as the saying goes, but blends are made in the cellar. By combining a handful of varieties together, winemakers can adjust aromas, flavors, structure, and freshness with balanced complexity being the goal.
This week’s wine of the week — Paumanok Vineyards 2014 Assemblage ($50) — hits the mark expertly.
A blend of 50 percent merlot, 37 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent cabernet franc and 3 percent petit verdot (Paumanok doesn’t grow any malbec), this wine is still quite young and fresh with a pure beam of blackberry and plum fruit accented by notes of spice and just a little vanilla. It’s fuller bodied, but lithe with nice acidity and well-integrated tannins.
I recommend decanting it for at least an hour, or at least letting it sit in your glass over the course of an evening. Or better yet, with a meal. Beef or lamb should work well almost no matter the preparation.
The 2014 Assemblage is available in Paumanok’s tasting room for $50.