Maryland, day two. My sincere apologies that it took two months to cover a two day road trip. Come to think of it, it may be a good incentive to live each day to the fullest and extend the good times. Or something like that. Enough rambling.
Cassinelli Winery is located south of Chestertown on Rt. 213 in the heart of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. When you enter the winery, the tasting room is off to the right of the production area. It’s evident there is a lot of change happening here.
Owner Al Cassinelli is a high energy, enthusiastic guy who is obviously very excited about his endeavor here in Church Hill. In addition to the winery, Al shared his plans to open a distillery in downtown Chestertown this coming April. Since my visit, Cassinelli officially announced their approved Federal Distillery status.
Al & his wife Jennifer have thirteen acres of vines on their farm, and bring in the remainder of their grapes from other sites in Queen Anne County. The wine is all from locally sourced fruit, which will be the catalyst for Al’s distilled spirits as well.
The Cassinellis offer nine wines at the winery, and I wasn’t shy & tasted them all. I can think of much less pleasant ways to spend an afternoon. Mowing grass for example. Anyway, here we go.
Vidal – Floral character with notes of honeysuckle. This wine is dry and somewhat syrupy. Al calls this this Vidal Blanc his winter white.
2011 Chardonnay – The first of two back-to-back Chards today, the ’11 is a nice, easy drinker with aromas of honey. An interesting tidbit on the Chard is that they plant two tons of grapes per acre, as opposed to five for the Vidal.
2009 Chardonnay – This lightly oaked wine is cleaner than the ’11. Two barrels of this was aged in oak, which gives it a creamy mouthfeel.
Rosé of Barbera – A good compromise between dry & sweet, this earthy Rosé is in contact with the skins for 24 hours to keep the color. Excellent summer sipper, RS is about .5%. This wine brought home a lot of medals.
Pole Dancer Sweet Red – This concoction is a mix of whites, reds (Sangiovese & Merlot) and raspberry. This popular, local favorite outsells every other wine here by a huge margin.
2007 Merlot – Nice example of local Merlot and great paired with chocolate. Great color on this.
Chocolate Kiss – Very accurate description. A blend of Merlot & Peruvian chocolate.
Al is an engaging host and was gracious enough to spend the afternoon with us and gave a tour of the facility, despite the busy activity in the tasting room today. Cassinelli’s offerings are a prime example of making the most of the Eastern Shore’s unique terroir. Barbera and Sangiovese are driving the reds as big Cabernets are tough to grow here.
Cassinelli Winery is a part of the newly formed Vintage Atlantic Wine Region, which showcases some of the fantastic wine being offered here on the East Coast. More big news on this new venture to come.