Champagne Deutz were in town recently as part of the Gonzalez Byass 2017 portfolio tasting, and commercial director Etienne Defosse was on hand to guide us through a masterclass of eight of their wines.
Founded in 1838, much of their production is consumed domestically in France and so this session was a rare and welcome opportunity to taste through their standard Brut NV, their Vintage Champagnes, and their prestige Amour range.
Producing a mere 2 million bottles per year (a drop in the ocean compared to the annual 300 million bottles produced in the Champagne region), Deutz have 42 hectares, 80% of which are classified at either Grand Cru or Premier Cru level. This accounts for 20% of their grape needs (a fairly high amount by Champagne standards), with the compliment bought in from the Cru status vineyards of local growers.
The house has 150 individual vats each containing one particular component of their wine. This distinct and high level of separation gives them absolute control and flexibility when blending their final cuvées, and their NV, for example, contains the grapes from up to 40 different sites. 40% of their annual production is kept as reserve wines for future blending.
The big take-away from this tasting was just how rich and vibrant their wines are, from the classic and classy NV’s through to the rich, layered and yet fantastically ‘alive’ Amour vintages with 10+ years of age already under their belt.
Champagne Deutz Brut Classic NV ~ £30
The base of the current Classic NV is comprised 50% of grapes from 2013, with the compliment made up of 2012 and a touch of 2011. The NV Champagnes account for 85% of Deutz production and Etienne enlightened us with a good level of detail of the costs involved (€6.50 per kilo of grapes and each bottle needing 1.5kg of grapes to make).
Composition is split evenly between Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and the house style is accessible, fresh, lively and crisp for immediate pleasure.
Champagne Deutz Rosé NV ~ £40-45
The current Rosé NV is comprised of 50% reserve wines, mainly from the 2011 vintage. Fully refreshing and bursting with strawberry and cranberry fruit, this showed a good complexity at this level.
Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2009 ~£55
Hailing from the great year of 2009 this Blanc de Blancs had a wonderfully layered texture throughout. The nose was full of bread and brioche, cream and a touch of smoke to the citrus. The palate followed this up with lemon curd, a twist of lime, and blossom florality.
No oak is used in the ageing process and so the density and complexity here is fully achieved through the detailed blending. Etienne did mention that one very large barrel had recently found its way in to their cellars, with the Chef de Cave clearly trying out a new cuvée!
Champagne Deutz Rosé Vintage 2009 ~£55
With 80% Pinot Noir in its composition, the Rosé had a fragrant nose, immediate strawberry and then headed off to the darker notes of raspberry and redcurrant. To achieve the precise colouring and fruit characters a vat of red wine is added; at just 5 to 7% of the overall blend.
As a point of interest Etienne disclosed that the same red wine vat is used for the colouring of both the NV Rosé and the Vintage Rosé but, even so, the difference between the two Champagnes was obvious.
Champagne Deutz Brut Vintage 2007 ~£50
I’m pretty sure that this was my first tasting of a 2007 Vintage Champagne, with the wet summer weather and uneven ripening resulting in many houses side-stepping the year. When quizzed on this Etienne responded that they almost always try to make a vintage expression, only recently failing to do so in 2011 due to vegetal characters in the Pinot Noir.
Etienne also divulged that the bottling was smaller than many vintages and so is already becoming harder to find. Using a greater compliment of Pinot Noir than usual (65%), this had a very distinctive nose (fennel, apparently) and followed it up on the palate with biscuit, ripe green pear flesh, and honeyed citrus.
Amour de Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2006 ~£100
Amour de Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2005 ~£100
Amour de Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2003 ~£100
First produced with the 1993 vintage, we were treated here to a trio of the most recent Amour releases. Many characteristics were present across all three vintages, not least the distinctive, almost luminescent colour (Imperial Gold, so we were told).
All three featured developed noses full of bread and biscuit, with a touch of nuttiness to the older two years. They were also all able to show off a freshness and vibrant mousse that showed no signs of dulling down any time soon, and the layers of cream and butter were a true treat.
The 2005 and 2003 both showed what felt like a small amount of tannin, and there was an identifiable smoky quality to the 2005. The 2003 had a particularly great depth and character. All were wonderful and long lasting on the palate.
We ended the session with one fun anecdote surrounding the Amour range. Since the 1999 vintage Deutz have produced a limited bottling of 365 numbered Methuselahs; one for each day of the year (and yes they do make 366 in leap years!). One particular customer who is an avid James Bond fan has block-reserved the bottle number 007 for all future releases.
With thanks to Gonzalez Byass for the tickets to their portfolio tasting and Champagne Deutz masterclass.