Sign up for our Newsletter

Paumanok’s Cabernet Franc (Photo credit: Doug Young)

The Minimalist label at Paumanok was started by winemaker Kareem Massoud as a way to show and celebrate the pure expression of well-grown Long Island grapes, like cabernet franc. It’s what it suggests: very little winemaker kit-bag tricks going on here. It’s hand-harvested, ferments via wild yeast, and gets zero sulfites added, or any dashes of this or that for that matter. It pulls its tannin and color from two months macerating on its skins. And while it does spend time in a barrel — about a year — it’s French oak that’s been used enough as to become entirely neutral; a mere resting place for the lovely juice. The first Minimalist cabernet franc was a tiny release back in 2017; this is the first one since, and it’s well worth getting your hands on.

The Winery: Paumanok Vineyards
The Winemaker: Kareem Massoud
The Wine: Minimalist Cabernet Franc 2021
The Price: $55 per bottle

The Grapes: 80% cabernet franc, 20% cabernet sauvignon

What’s in your glass: Word on the street is, despite its challenges, the 2021 vintage on Long island is a good one to grab from. As far as cabernet franc goes, a bad vintage can up the difficulty level on ripening. But, as Massoud says, the bad weather had good timing. “September and October were very warm with plenty of sunshine resulting in a full ripening of the crop,” he says. This means that the grapes pyrazines — a chemical compound that can wind up smelling and tasting like bell pepper in a variety like cabernet franc — instead came into its full, ripe-fruit glory, with notes of wild, brambly black fruit, savory herbal notes, and just an overall, well-balanced taste and texture. 

Pairs with: One of the wonderful traits of cool-climate cab franc (which, if you ask us, should be all cab franc) is how thoroughly versatile it is. For Massoud it’s the same; he suggest anything from roasted vegetables and broiled salmon to hearty cassoulet or chill-soothing goulash.

To hold or not to hold: While it’s tasting beautiful now, Massoud says you can hold this vintage 8 to 10 years.