Running Brook Winery: Mass Appeal

We didn’t get very much summer in Monterey, but we had high hopes for our trip to Cape Cod. The forecast was warm and sunny! We should know by now that inclement weather follows us whenever we visit New England, and this trip was no exception.

Running Brook Winery
Running Brook (Drizzling Rain)

But you can’t claim to be from Seattle like me if you can’t handle a little rain. So we trekked on out to the deep South Shore of Massachusetts to see what kind of wines were being made with local grapes. Our first stop was Running Brook Vineyard and Winery in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Using only Southeastern New England AVA estate-grown grapes, Running Brook produces a nice handful of varietals. Running Brook’s tasting room is located inside their all-on-one facility, which exudes a rustic feel informed by a New England practicality.

Running Brook Winery
I totally don't remember the direct sunlight.

Pat, who poured for us, was charming, friendly and quite knowledgeable about the region’s unique grape-growing context. Nikki adds: Pat created an experience that was the exact opposite of that terrible wine tasting experience we blogged about several weeks ago. She made us feel welcome and important, and was a fantastic host. She mentioned that Running Brook was part of the Coastal Wine Trail of Southeastern New England. If you’re planning a trip to the area, check out their Passport program for a convenient way to plan a tasting route. We learned that Running Brook’s founders include one of the first people to successfully start a vineyard in New England, Owner and Vineyard Manager Manuel Morais.

The area is a cool grape growing region. As a result, Southeastern New England winemakers offer a higher ratio of white wines to reds than their Pacific coast counterparts do.

The Wines

2010 Unoaked Chardonnay: This had a fruity aroma with just a hint of sugar. The flavor was nice and clean, with elements of apple and pear. There was also a charming warmth on the finish which I wasn’t expecting in an unoaked chard.

2008 Chardonnay Blend: This was a blend of 60% oaked and 40% unoaked chardonnay. As you might expect, this had a warmer quality throughout than the unoaked 2010.  It also had those apple and pear flavors, but they emerged a little later in the flavor, almost as though the 2010 had raw fruit and the 2008 blend had fruit that had been baked in a pie.

2008 Pinot Gris: If you drew an arc from the 2010 Chardonnay through the 2008 blend, the Pinto Gris would lad right in that arc, with an even warmer quality than the previous two wines. The fruit was also evident here, but with less specificity.

2008 Vidal Blanc: Here’s a varietal we never encountered before. Vidal is a cool-climate grape that produces a wine most akin to Riesling or Gewürtztraminer. It’s very aromatic and floral on both the nose and palate, and it has a noticeably more viscous mouthfeel. There’s a light but definite taste of alcohol that combines with the floral notes to  pleasantly suggest perfume.

2010 Vidal Blanc: This was similar to the 2008, but with more of a grapefruit essence in the aroma and flavor. Quit a refreshing wine, this would make a great summer sipper.

2010 Red Blend: Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petite Verdot combine to provide a smoky, earthy aroma. This wine had a lighter body than I expected. The flavor revealed dark fruit followed by smoky tannins.

2007 Auslesen Dessert Wine: The aroma was sweet with a suggestion of honey. The flavor delivered on that suggestion – the unmistakable essence of honey layered over a golden raisin flavor.

2010 Frost Wine: The aroma of this one was sweet with a hint of grapefruit and just a trace of yeast. The flavor was deep and sweet with an almost savory quality, and a nice, viscous mouthfeel.