Grower Champagne Club – November 2014

NV Jean Vesselle, Oeil de Perdrix
There is a reason this wine is called “eye of the partridge.” It refers to the slight pinkish color of the wine that resembles, to be precise, the color of the partridge’s eye in its death throes, and originated back when wines produced from Pinot Noir retained a bit of amber color. The style was abandoned for a time, as the large Champagne houses felt their wines should be white or rosé, not something in between, even though removing the color also took some of the aromatics and flavor out of the wines. In recent years, a number of Champagne growers have reintroduced Oeil de Perdrix wines (we featured one from Doyard in our September, 2010 club), including the house of Jean Vesselle. The Vesselle family estate, based in the Grand Cru village of Bouzy, dates back over 300 years, passed down from father to son and now, to daughter, Delphine the current winemaker. As for their version of this wine, it seems that in 1972, when Jean Vesselle was making improvements on the winery, he discovered some old bottles from his grandfather in the wall that were made in the Oeil de Perdrix style. He found the color charming but, more importantly, the aromas and flavors astounding. So they reintroduced the old abandoned style and continue to produce a version today. This one (100% Pinot Noir of course) sees a minimum of two to three years aging before release and expresses the combination of power, elegance, and finesse that the Vesselle house aims for in all of their Champagnes. It is rich and layered, with fresh, yeasty biscuit notes and full-bodied, lingering flavors. It is $60 and would pair easily with a wide variety of foods, but is delightful on its own, too.