Pol Roger releases 2009 vintage of cuvée Churchill ChampagneBy Patrick Schmitt
Established by Pol Roger in homage to its most famous fan, a new cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Champagne has been released this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
The 2009 cuvée marks the 18th release since the inaugural 1975 vintage, which was created a decade after Churchill’s death, and launched in 1984 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of D-Day.
The cuvee, which is only made in small quantities in the best vintages, and released later than Pol Roger’s other vintage-dated Champagnes, in recognition of Churchill’s appreciation for older wines, retains many of the qualities Churchill himself demanded of Champagne – robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity.
Remuage (riddling) and disgorging of the bottles and magnums is still done by hand, making the cuvée a predominantly handmade product. Grapes are sourced exclusively from grands crus Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards that were already under vine during Churchill’s lifetime. Although the recipe today is a closely guarded secret, it reflects the composition of Champagne in Churchill’s day, when Pol Roger was made from 80% Pinot Noir and only 20% Chardonnay. Thus, the robust structure and breadth of the Pinot Noir is complemented by the elegance, finesse and subtlety of Chardonnay.
“When drinking Champagne, Churchill liked to enjoy it with food, so we have tried to create a wine with structure, volume, a complex palate and a long finish,” James Simpson MW, managing director of Pol Roger Portfolio, explains.
According to the official harvest report, 2009 was an excellent year for Pinot Noir. After one of the coldest winters in 15 years, the mild and rainy spring boosted the vines’ vegetation, and the hot dry and sunny days and cool nights from mid-July right until harvest in September proved ideal for the developing the sugars and aromas, and resulted in exceptionally healthy fruit on the vines.
Commenting on the latest release of Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill at a launch event in London on Tuesday this week, Hubert de Billy, who is a fifth generation member of the Pol Roger-owning family, joked that the only problem with the 2009 Champagne was the fact it followed the critically-acclaimed 2008.
However, pointing out that the 2009 harvest produced wines of “enjoyment and fruitiness”, in comparison to the previous year’s more austere Champagnes, he commented that “2008 is a vintage for collectors, 2009 is a vintage for drinkers”.
Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2009: the facts
- Dosage: 7g/l
- Lees-ageing time: 10 years
- The wine will be available in bottles at The Ritz, Davies and Brook at Claridge’s, and The Connaught, and served by the glass at Hide, with further stock reserved for the trade, to ensure even distribution in the on- and off-trade.
- The new prestige cuvée will form one of the highlights of the Champagne house’s portfolio tastings taking place in London and Manchester on 24 and 26 March respectively.
- Release: Available in bottle and magnum
- Price: Approx £170 per 75cl bottle
- For more information on the tastings please contact: email@example.com