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Bus left and took us to Winston Churchill´s favorite Champagne Pol Roger. we had a visit and lunch at Champagne Pol Roger with president Laurent D´Harcourt and some amazing rarities.

10 Downing Street

RJ ON POL ROGER The foremost ambassador for Champagne, Christian Pol-Roger, has unfortunately retired from the scene. Nowadays the firm is run by Christian de Billy’s son Hubert. He was very doubtful for a long time as to whether or not he should dedicate his life to the family firm, but feels completely at peace now that the choice has finally been made. Winston Churchill’s favourite domain was established in 1849 by Pol Roger, who was succeeded by his sons, Maurice and Georges.

At the turn of the century the Roger family changed its name to Pol-Roger. Maurice was the mayor of Épernay during the week-long occupation of the town by the Germans in September 1914. Despite German threats to shoot him and burn down the town, he remained defiant and was later hailed almost as a saint in the town. He was voted honorary mayor for life. England has always been the main export market for Pol Roger, and when the wartime prime minister Sir Winston Churchill died the label of the Champagne was black-edged in memory. After a suitable period of mourning, the 1975 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill was launched, in magnums only. The wine is made in a style they believe Sir Winston would have appreciated. His favorite vintages were 1928, 1934, and 1947.

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TODAY Nowadays the firm owns eighty-five hectares of vineyards, most of them close to Épernay: Mardeuil, Chouilly, Pierry, Moussy, Chavot, Cuis, Cramant, and Grauves. They meet 45 per cent of the firm’s needs, and the rest is taken from Pinot villages to give the wine backbone. Pol Roger’s vinification is quite normal, which leads me to the conclusion that the secret lies in the quality of the grapes and, above all, in the skill in assembling the cuvées. The wines are medium-bodied, with a lovely fruit balance and perfect dosage. The mousse is exemplary, with smaller bubbles than usual because of a cellar temperature half a degreee below the average.

Pol Roger had more wines and more older wines in the Millennium Tasting than almost any other Champagne domain, which is completely natural because Pol Roger’s champagnes are extremely high class and are so long-lived. They are normally most famous for their Pinot-dominated cuvées today made by Dominique Petit, but at Villa Pauli they were rewarded for the best blanc de blancs ever made, with their powerful 1959. My only 100-pointer is a blanc de blancs from Pol Roger. I love the entire range of the firm’s products, from the regular non-vintage all the way to the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, and I guarantee you that every sound bottle you drink will impart a life-enhancing experience of pure joy. Just at present the best bargain is the 2000 Blanc de Chardonnay if you can wait at least two more years after release. The wines from the 2002 vintage are destined for the cellar.

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APÉRITIF IN THE GARDEN  | 2004 POL ROGER ‘BLANC de BLANCS’ | Epernay | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 87(92)

TASTING NOTE It’s a bit early to predict whether this will be a bestseller or just a very nice Champagne. Anyway, we again have to do with a classic Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs with strong mineral character and lemon overtones. The roundness verify that we have to wait for a while.

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1988 POL ROGER ‘BLANC de CHARDONNAY’ | Epernay | Champagne | France | 100CH | RJ 94(96)

TASTING NOTE This label is very consistent through the years. Already from the start, the ’88 was charming, and distinguished with a faint note of citrus and a soft aftertaste. Delightfully complex bouquet, with a nutty tone and classic purity developed in the beginning of the twenty-first century and by 2003 the wine had broken all barriers. Now it’s sensationally voluptuous and rich, with a Comtes-like exotic mint-toffee sweetness and layers of butter toffee and fat Chardonnay.

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1999 POL ROGER ‘CUVÉE SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL VINOTHÈQUE’ by magnum | Epernay | Champagne | France | secret blend | RJ 91(93)

TASTING NOTE Young and immature directly after degorgement. A bit closed at that time, but nothing that makes me think of anything but a very good future. As I expected early, harmony appered when I tasted it again at the beginning of 2012. Very nice on jeroboam and magnum.

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1993 POL ROGER ‘MILLÉSIME VINOTHÈQUE’ by magnum | Epernay | Champagne | France | 60PN 40CH | RJ 92(92)

TASTING NOTE A wine that was surprisingly similar to the fruity and charming nonvintage Champagne when it was released on the market. In a very short time the character has gained depth—we are already dealing with a classic but as-yet light and rapidly maturing Pol Roger. To be drunk in great, refreshing gulps. Because the house-style is intact, it will surely mature handsomely. No great depth, but still a good piece of work.

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1996 POL ROGER ‘ROSÉ VINOTHÈQUE’ | Epernay | Champagne | France | 65PN 35CH | RJ 92(96)

TASTING NOTE This issue of this wine follows the trend of recent years’ rosé wines, which is somewhat lighter, more floral and simultaneously creamier than previous vintages. Gorgeously, romantically summery just at present.

Pol Roger

2006 POL ROGER ‘ROSÉ’ | Epernay | Champagne | France | 65PN 35CH | RJ 84(87)

TASTING NOTE Clearly better than the alarming weakness in 2004. Pure fine fruit, but still somewhat neutral in style and now the rosé from PR is always the only vintage wine from Pol Roger, I do not acquire my own winecellar.

15 champagne lovers | 6 champagnes | 5 vintages | 75 glasses | 4 dishes

 

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