It’s been awhile since I tasted the current releases of Pippin Hill Vineyard, which has in the meantime become a partner in Michael Shaps Wineworks (who has always made the wines for the vineyard nearby at their Carter’s Bridge facility).

The quality and style of the white, rose and sparkling wines has definitely stepped up a notch or two. I declined to taste the reds, as it was mid-August and I had driven up from the south in the mid-day sun. Here are the white, sparkling and rose wine tasting notes of their current releases:

*Sparkling Blanc de Blancs 2015: Nose: impressively complex nose, lemon and lees, some toast. Palate: wonderfully round, integrated texture with lees, bright lemon notes, and fresh green apple on the finish. Classic and stylish.

*Sparkling Rosé 2016: Grapes are the same as for the still wine: merlot, chambourcin, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon).  Nose: bright red cherry fruit but also some yeastiness, adding complexity. Palate: bright red fruit acidity followed by smoky, earth notes over ripe red cherry. Impressively complexity and depth, obviously spent time on the lees.

Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (100% estate): A welcome addition to the sauvignon blancs made in the Upper Piedmont or the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, this one more reminiscent of white Bordeaux on the nose, then Loire Valley on the palate, than NZ/Marlborough, which is welcome. On the palate, dry, fresh, crisp, nice grapefruit and lemongrass, very food-friendly and versatile.

Viognier 2016 (all estate fruit): Nose: good varietal typicity of white flowers and ripe apricot. Palate: delicate but solid peach/apricot fruit and fresh, well-balanced finish.

Zero White 2016: a blend of petit manseng, traminette, vidal blanc, sauvignon blanc. Nose: floral, driven by traminette. Palate: juicy, but fine firm acid, seems dry but 1.4% residual sugar. A versatile wine, will please dry drinkers for the acidity, and sweet drinkers for the residual sugar.

Dry Rosé 2016: (merlot, chambourcin, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon): color is a bit darker than the pale Provenςal style. Nose: fresh, bright red cherries! Palate: dry, medium-bodied, solid bright red cherry flavor, fresh clean finish.

*Chardonnay Reserve 2015: 16 months in new French oak. Nose: subtle, elegant, green apple, just a hint of vanilla/caramel. Palate: bright, lively lemon/citrus acidity, solid concentration of fruit on mid-palate. Drinks like white Burgundy with high acid and bright citrus/green apple fruit. Flavors closed, needs time but promising.