After the earlier part of the day picking up the package at Stone Tower, dad and I headed over to Casanel, pretty close by and a spot I’ve been wanting to check out. They got recognition for their 2016 Carmenere, and since I love that grape, I thought we should head over and do a tasting.
The roads to get there aren’t easy to drive and friendly, and I’m good with that, because I don’t like my wineries crowded. Given that we’ve had quite the cold snap and such, they weren’t crowded at all, and we got right up to the tasting bar to hear from Eric. He ran an awesome and fun tasting, and had the winemaker’s notebook out the whole time so we could see what she recorded for each varietal and vintage.
We tasted the full menu, and Eric added in the ’16 Cabernet Sauvignon and the ’16 Carmenere, cause he was awesome. I’m going to skip to the ones I really liked rather than recapping every taste we had. The ’16 Reserve Chardonnay was very nice – no malolactic fermentation so it was crisper with a little bit of custard to it, but generally nice white fruit overall. I like this one a lot.
The ’16 K2 red blend was great – very smooth and drinkable – either with or without food it would be delightful as a way to finish an evening. A couple came in and bought a bottle to drink there while we were at the counter. I admit to a little bit of bottle envy.
The two Cab Sauv’s – interestingly, the ’16 was much lighter than the ’15. I’d say pair the ’15 with food to get the whole experience and the ’16 can be drank by itself or with food. These were both pleasant, not overbearing cabs, good Virginia style with the ’15 having a little more darkness and earthiness to it.
The ’15 and ’16 Carmenere – as one of a small number of places in Virginia growing this grape, it was quite nice. The ’16 was darker and richer than the ’15 and I can see why it won awards. They did a really nice job with this wine, and it’s their strongest suit, in my humble opinion.
Dad I each had a glass of the Carmenere to drink while there. While still at the bar, the winemaker Katie came and talked with us, as did Nelson, her father who is also co-owner of the winery. If I’m not mistaken, we were wished a great afternoon at the door by the other co-owner and wife of Nelson, whose name I did not catch :(. Chatting with Katie was fun to get some insight into her thinking about the wines, and hear her experience with the 2018 growing season. It sounds like they got about 30% of their fruit through harvest and into barrels, so they will be able to do some wines, maybe not the full lineup. We had a good talk about what other wineries were doing with only making rose or sourcing grapes from elsewhere.
The layout of the winery and tasting room is fantastic – it’s a great setup with pleasant spaces and great views of the vineyards all around you. I’ll definitely come back here and check it out again, especially as additional wines are released in the future, to see how they are developing.
This is a good stop, and it’s on the recommended list. Keep up the great work, Casanel!