by Fred McMillin
for April 23, 1998

This Is No Plain Champagne


The gastronomic scene a century and a half ago:

l836—The first printed American menu at Delmonico's in N.Y.C. lists the most expensive entree as hamburger steak at 10 cents.

1837—English pharmacists John Wheeler Lea and William Perrins in the town of Worcester introduce Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.

1838—The House of Deutz is founded by William Deutz and Pierre-Hubert Geldermann at Ay in the Champagne district of France, planting a 100-acre vineyard. Hugh Johnson says today Deutz & Geldermann remains a small, dynamic firm (with those same 100 acres). Author Carlo Petrini says Deutz("Geldermann" has been dropped) is the "symbol of Champagne, with outstanding winemaking" by the fifth-generation owners.

The Rest of the Story

One critic opened a Deutz that "bubbled and sprayed up to heaven." Not content to rest on such laurels, the firm further upgraded its facilities in recent years, and you can taste the results in their latest "Brut Classic."

The Wine

Deutz Classic Brut Champagne, Non-Vintage (blend of several years) Blend: 38% Pinot Noir, 32% Pinot Meunier and 30% Chardonnay.
Tasting Notes: The new facilities have increased the fruit flavors in that "heavenly" blanket of yeasty foam. Delicious with pears poached in red wine, a dish my wife learned in the Loire Valley.
Contact: If you can't get through to 28551511 in Ay, try Michelle Armour or Tina Caputo at (510) 286-2000 in Oakland, CA.
Price—$29 range


This is a non-vintage Champagne. Here's what the late, great Andre Simon said of them. "The vineyards of Champagne are very near the northern limit beyond which grapes will not mature. There are a number of years when the weather is not favorable and wines made from them will be somewhat tart and thin. Then wealthy Champagne Shippers with reserves of past good vintages bring forth the right quantity of soft and fat wine to blend with the others, often producing better values than the Vintage wines."

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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