Based in its refined residence in Aÿ, Deutz is one of those Champagne houses for the connoisseurs, praised for the excellence of its wines and their characteristic elegant vinosity that make them great food champagnes. A discrete house, its reach is surprising, with its bottles of distinctive long necks that are found in some of the best restaurants around the world.
William Deutz and Pierre-Hubert Geldermann were wine merchants from Aix-La Chapelle in Germany. Attracted by the champagne phenomena, they moved to the region in 1830 where William Deutz and Pierre-Hubert traded champagne wines. In 1838, they founded their Champagne house, Deutz & Geldermann, in Aÿ. They initially started selecting and trading bottled wines, but convinced that fine grapes were the cornerstone of great wines, they started buying vineyards and making their own champagne. By combining their technical expertise and knowledge of markets, they developed the house internationally.
René Deutz and Alfred Geldermann who inherited the business from their fathers in the late 1860s, increased the champagne sales further, mainly in Britain, Germany, and Russia. They took their place among the great houses of Champagne and became a founding member in 1882 of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques de Champagne.
The daughters of René and Alfred married two Champenois, owners of vines, René Lallier and Charles Van Cassel, and, in 1906, they took over the management. They had to confront many difficulties including the Champagne Riots of 1911.
Charles died in 1919, and during the Great Depression that followed, his widow, Marie Deutz had to reinvest a large part of her considerable personal wealth into the company to keep it afloat, and chose a new commercial director to replace Charles. By 1934, a normal rhythm returned to the financial affairs of the house, with 132,530 bottles sold, two-thirds of which on the French market.
René Lallier died in 1938, and his son Jean had to get the house through WW2, with little money and men available. The company survived on 200,000 bottles a year up to the 1950s. But Jean eventually managed to rebuild the champagne stocks, while implementing many technical upgrades in the winery–finer presses, a better tank room, and an new disgorging line.
In 1972, his son André took over a prosperous business: an estate of very high-quality vineyards–with an average of 97% in the Champagne crus rating scale–and comfortable stocks of wine.
After some vicissitudes, in 1993, the Rouzaud Family, already owner of great wine estates including Louis Roederer, acquired a majority stake in Champagne Deutz. Their right-hand person, Fabrice Rosset was appointed president in 1996. From that moment the company invested close to 30 million euros in state-of-the-art equipment, greater winery capacity, additional vineyards, and increased supplies of grapes from grand and premier cru. The result is a comprehensive range of wines (from six to 14 very distinctive cuvées) of better and consistent quality, resulting in a dramatic increase in sales.
Vineyard and Production
Deutz’s vineyard comprises approximately 300 ha of which 46 ha directly owned or farmed, mostly in and around Aÿ, land of pinot noir. All the first and malolactic fermentations take place in small stainless-steel vats to maintain the identity of the different terroirs, at low temperatures to preserve the aromas and avoid any unwanted oxidations. Under Fabrice Rosset, Deutz has increased its sales from 600,000 bottles in 1996 to over 2.5 million in 2019.
Deutz champagnes are characterized by finesse, elegant vinosity, and complexity. Chef de Cave Michel Davesne explains that the vinosity issues from pinot noir and the finesse from the crus used, mostly Aÿ, a grand cru present in all their champagnes (except the blanc de blancs). The complexity comes from precise blends and long aging.
The range is made only of excellent cuvées. The non-vintages include Brut Classic, Extra-Brut, Rosé, and Demi-Sec. Brut Classic is among my favorite BSAs, with its distinctive, elegant vinosity. The vintage range includes a brut, a rosé, a blanc de blancs, and a demi-sec. They have two vintage prestige cuvées, a more masculine William Deutz made with all the three grape varieties and a more feminine Amour de Deutz entirely made of chardonnay, also available in rosé (60% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay). They are all delicious, and Amour Blanc de Blancs is one of my favorite chardonnay champagnes. It is Rosset’s creation, like the three very focused single-parcel vintage blanc de noirs cuvées they recently introduced.