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Editor at large Harvey Steiman joined Wine Spectator in 1983; his tasting beats are Australia, Oregon and Washington.
Harvey Steiman

A Grower Champagne Worth Keeping an Eye Out For

Jean Vesselle Champagne Brut Oeil de Perdrix NV

Harvey Steiman
Posted: December 28, 2009

I admit to a weakness for grower Champagnes. They taste to me more like fine wines that happen to have bubbles, with rich textures and flavors of fruit, spice and earth. I see them as having depth, as opposed to so many of the big names, which may have more refinement but get their character either from steely structure or toasty overtones from aging.

Just in time for New Year’s, I found the wine I want to toast 2010 with, Jean Vesselle Champagne Brut Oeil de Perdrix, a non-vintage blanc de noirs that retails for $60. The Oeil de Perdrix name, which translates to “eye of the partridge,” refers to the wine’s light salmon color, much like that of the bird’s eye. The wine sports Pinot Noir’s strawberry and rhubarb notes, with overtones of wet earth, herbs and toast. But they’re just overtones. It’s the delicate fruit that’s so beguiling. What’s that on the finish? Peach?

The estate, which encompasses two separate parcels in Bouzy, has been in the same family for 300 years. Since 1996, it has been run by Delphine Vesselle, daughter of the man whose name is on the label. I’m not sure I can detect a woman’s touch, but the wine sure has charm. 92 points, non-blind.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Champagnes, plus our quick list of Top Values in Champagne.

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