Friday, 3 April 2009

Oeil de Perdrix - Rosé

Oeil de Perdrix is an old name for very pale Rosé wine made by the Saignée method. Its name means "eye of the partridge" in French, after the pink-copper colour of the bird’s eye. The history of the wine style dates back to the Middle Ages in the Champagne region of France.

During this period the Champenois were in competition with the Burgundy wine region for the favour of the Royal court and the lucrative Paris market. Red wine was particularly popular during this period and the northern location of the Champagne region had difficulties competing with the more fuller bodied wines of Burgundy. Wine makers in Ay Marne began experimenting with creating a fuller bodied white wine from red wine grapes that the Champenois could uniquely market. Despite their best efforts, the Champenois did not have the technical expertise to make a truly "white" wine from red grapes, and the result was Oeil de Perdrix. Centuries later, a Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon would eventually perfect the method of white wine from red grape production that would be a vital component in the success of sparkling Champagne wine.

Oeil de Perdrix spread to Switzerland where it would become a popular dry Rosé made from Pinot Noir. The early origins of the American wine White Zinfandel can be traced to a California winemaker's attempt at making an Oeil de Perdrix style wine.

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