Champagne Jean-Paul Deville
19th January 2024
Today we are once again in Reims, the coronation capital of Champagne. As we said before, Reims was founded by the Gauls and was a very important city in the Roman Empire. It has seen the coronation of 33 French kings, most notable of whom, Charles VII, was famously crowned by Joan of Arc at the end of the Hundred Years War. These royal ties provide the perfect backdrop for the sparkling nectar favoured by elites the world over, Champagne. At Vitis, we pride ourselves on having a unique and eclectic Champagne list. Today, we have decided to explore one of our house favourites: Jean-Paul Deville.
Along the steep walk of the Montagne de Reims lies the village of Verzy, full of vineyards, idyllic country lanes and an outer forest; this forest is famed for its rare ‘dwarf beeches’, whose branches scrape the floor like a witch’s fingers. Verzy is the southern neighbour to Verzenay and Beaumont-sur-Vesle, and is one of only 17 villages in Champagne to own a Grand Cru status. This is thanks to the excellent Pinot Noir that can be found on the north-facing parcels. For those who don’t know, Grand Cru Classé is a classification for the highest standard of wines in France, first established in 1855 in Bordeaux, and is linked with price, quality, and of course: reputation. No surprise then that the likes of Bollinger and Pol Roger have vineyards in Verzy. Yet, Verzy is also the headquarters of Deville, a family run winery since 1968.
Already in the 19th century, Champagne makers were buying grapes from Deville vineyards. For five generations, the Deville family sold their harvest to local winemakers, only taking an inward turn in the late 1900s. In 1966, the 23 year old Jean-Paul began focusing on a family-owned Champagne, transforming the legacy of his forefathers. After vinifying his wines in a family cellar, in 1968 he eventually finished building his own press, now able to control the wine making process from harvest to bottle. That same year, the very first vintage of Jean-Paul Deville was released – now 55 years ago!
Since their inception, the Jean-Paul Deville brand has been a pioneer of small production. In 1986 they were some of the first winemakers to create rosé Champagne, using the traditional blending method. Despite Verzy being famed for its Pinot Noir, in 1996 the house created a blanc de blanc, believing in the quality of their Chardonnay. These grapes come from sites in the Côtes de Blancs (also in Marne), grown in limestone and chalk, and, as standard for Deville, create a wine through the traditional méthode champenoise.
The Deville winery is now spearheaded by Jean-Paul’s daughter, Marie-Alice, who, after years of academia in London and Oxford, decided to study viticulture in her hometown in Champagne, thus able to bring new technical information and methodologies to the family business. The Deville legacy lives on through her hands.
Jean-Paul Deville Carte Noir NV Brut
This brut is made with sustainable viticulture, comprising 75% Pinot Noir from northern slopes of clay-limestone, 20% Chardonnay from the limestone and chalk of Côtes de Blancs, finished with 5% Meunier. The wine undergoes full malolactic fermentation to reduce acidity, with 10 months in tanks; a single vintage is typically blended with vintages from 2-3 years prior, all under the traditional méthode champenoise. The wine rests a minimum of 3 years in bottle.
Jean-Paul Deville Blanc de Blancs NV Brut
This brut is made with sustainable viticulture, comprising 100% Chardonnay taken from the limestone and chalk soils of Côtes de Blancs, including from some premier cru parcels. Traditional méthode champenoise with full malolactic fermentation. Blending of a single vintage alongside vintages from 2-3 years prior. The wine rests a minimum of 3 years in bottle.
Jean-Paul Deville Rose NV Brut
Another sustainably made brut, nicknamed ‘Sappheiros’, comprising 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. As before, traditional méthode champenoise with full malolactic fermentation. Blending of a single vintage alongside vintages from 2-3 years prior. The wine rests a minimum of 3 years in bottle.
Unfortunately for us Londoners, it isn’t the verdurous greens of a Champagne forest which hide the shimmering glow of a low-setting Winter sun, but a rain-caked skyline of steel and stress. As December rolls on however, with holidays finally setting in, we at Vitis hope that the days start to feel all the more relaxed and joyous, and that you will all be sharing glasses with family and friends!
Ci vediamo presto!
Giancarlo Tocci and Julian Kitsz
Runs the Vitis Wine Blog on behalf of Vitis, a wine bar & bistro in the heart of Kensington & Chelsea, whose owner, Giancarlo Tocci, prides himself on only selling low intervention, artisanal wines that he himself drinks. Vitis is a cosy spot, with a seasonal food menu, focused on sourcing the right ingredients.