With its rounded flavours and engaging story, Peter Ranscombe expects Champagne Deutz to be a popular addition with diners and drinkers north of the border.
NEVER before has there been so much choice on the Champagne shelf in your local bottle shop or the sparkling wine list in your neighbourhood restaurant.
Big-name brands rub shoulder-to-shoulder with “grower-producers”, farmers who make their own sparkling wines in smaller quantities, but often retaining more character.
Somewhere in the middle sits Deutz; founded in 1838, it was one of the 11 original “grand marque” Champagnes of 1882 and the sixth generation of the Deutz-Lallier family now works in the business.
The company is owned by the Rouzaud family – which also has the Louis Roederer label – with output trebling since 1996 to around 2.3 million bottles a year.
That’s still a drop in the ocean compared with the 300 million or so bottles of Champagne produced each year, but it gives Deutz the scale to begin a serious push into export markets, including Scotland.
The brand has always had a following on this side of the Channel – Queen Victoria served the marque at her diamond jubilee.
The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews is one of the first outlets during the current exports push to start stocking Deutz, with UK agent Gonzalez-Byass reporting a rise in Champagne sales at the establishment.
The brand is also enjoying a boost south of the border, with La Ferme – the restaurant co-owned by Guillaume Dunos, one of the finalists in Michelin’s 2017 young chef of the year competition – partnering with Deutz for the Champagne bar in its new Primrose Hill eatery in London.
A masterclass in Edinburgh at last month’s annual tasting run by wine importer and distributor Inverarity Morton offered an opportunity to get to grips with Deutz’s range.
The Deutz Brut Classic (£31.99, Inverarity Morton) is the brand’s “entry-level” label – made from a third each of the classic Champagne grape varieties, chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir – although the taste is far from entry-level, with concentrated red apple aromas and flavours and fine bubbles to balance the tinglingly-fresh acidity.
For me, the acidity was even crisper in the Deutz Brut Rosé (£37.99), with ripe strawberry flavours and tarter cranberry and redcurrant notes.
Both non-vintage “cuvees” – or blends – benefit from a high proportion of “reserve wines”, the liquid held back from each vintage to sit in the Champagne house’s library to continue ageing and developing its flavours.
The label also uses just the juice from the first pressing of the grapes, with the second and third pressings – which can contain less intense flavours – sold to other producers.
Deutz owns 45 hectares of vineyards centred around the Ay and Haute Vallee de Marne areas, and also buys in grapes from other growers.
Its specialism is pinot noir and the grape is the star of the show in the Deutz Brut Vintage 2012 (£41.49), with red apple and quince aromas paired with flavours of brown bread, brown sugar, strawberry, raspberry and a chalky element, adding to the more-rounded mouthfeel expected from vintage champers.
Shifting up a gear, the flagship Cuvee William Deutz 2002 (£80.99) was the highlight of the masterclass for me thanks to its aromas of baked apples, crème caramel and patisserie, leading into honeyed almonds and figs on the palate, and a gorgeously-rounded feeling in the mouth.
In exceptional years, the house also makes a 100%-chardonnay or “blanc de blanc” sparkler and the Amour de Deutz 2005 (£105.99) was a real crowd-pleaser in Edinburgh, showing off its aromas of croissant smothered in honey and its more textured toffee and savour almond flavours.