Château D'Auvernier Oeil de Perdrix Neuchâtel 2005
Switzerland's French speakers may delight students of that language by speaking slowly, but
this lovely Oeil de Perdrix (literally, “partridge eye”) comes into being rather rapidly.
Winemaker Thierry Grosjean produces this light rosé from the only grape allowed in the
Auvernier appellation: Pinot Noir. Crush the grapes and ferment the free-run juice 15 to 18
hours at 22 degree Celsius and you're done. These lovely grapes are grown on medium chalky
soil not dissimilar to that of Burgundy some hundred miles to the west.
With a slight effervescence, this wine brings initially a nice minerality, peach, orange peel, grapefruit, and rose to the nose. On tasting, a light though abiding raspberry sews it all together, shepherding the elements through to a refreshing and slightly bitter mineral finish. The wine is entirely dry. Let not the speed of its production obscure its sophisticated elegance. Though not expensive (about 10 Swiss francs the half bottle or about $8.50) this is hardly a “beginner” rosé; the key sad fact is that once you have it in your mouth, you cannot enjoy the lovely salmon color. Most wines today engineer quality color, but usually you drink rather than gape.
Caves du Château d'Auvernier recommends the wine be served with “pâtés, fish, seafood,
exotic dishes and poultry.” I'll take one of each in my picnic basket, please, with a view of
the Lac de Neuchâtel.
Verdict: A Delight
Making a wine from free-run Pinot Noir—or really from any Pinot Noir—seems to me a delicate matter indeed, one of those “don't try this at home” situations.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman