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Champagne Pol Roger celebrates Churchill connection with statue

A two-metre bronze statue of famous British statesman, Sir Winston Churchill has been unveiled at the Champagne house he had such a lifelong affection for – Pol Roger.

Picture credit: Michaël Boudot

Officially revealed on Tuesday this week, the artwork was crafted by British painter and sculptor Paul Rafferty, who lives on the French Riviera, and has written a book on Churchill’s paintings of the south of France.

While the war-time Prime Minister is best known for his clever wit, cigar smoking and Champagne consumption, he was also a prolific artist and painted over 550 pictures in his lifetime.

It’s for this reason that Rafferty has depicted Churchill at his easel, painting his ‘Bottlescape’ (1926) – a picture that can be seen by the public today at the famous figure’s former home, Chartwell in Kent, which is run by the National Trust.

The bronze also displays the British statesman’s other passions – not only is he puffing on a cigar, but there is a Pol Roger ice bucket at his feet, in which rests Churchill’s favourite cuvée: Champagne Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1928.

The sculpture was unveiled by Lord Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, Churchill’s great grandson, and Hubert de Billy, fifth generation family member of Champagne Pol Roger, with the ceremony at Pol Roger’s Epernay headquarters also including other members of the Churchill and Soames families, as well as those from the Spencer-Churchills.

Among others present was Dame Menna Rawlings (His Majesty’s Ambassador in Paris), Monsieur Franck Leroy (President of the Grand Est region), Monsieur Henri Prévost (Préfet of the Marne), Christine Mazy (Mayor of Epernay) and Laurent d’Harcourt (CEO of Champagne Pol Roger).

The event was organised to mirror a historic lunch in November 1945 where Churchill was invited, along with Mary Soames, his daughter, by the then British Ambassador in Paris, Alfred Duff Cooper, to a luncheon at his official residence.

A lifelong friendship was cemented between Odette Pol Roger (wife of Jacques Pol Roger and granddaughter to Sir Richard Wallace) and Winston Churchill, which endures in both families today.

The evening’s entertainment featured a performance by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Volunteer Band, comprising three pipers and two drummers. The regiment have been friends and customers of Pol Roger since 1973 when, under the stewardship of Captain Mel Jameson, while attending a Resistance commemoration event, Christian Pol Roger convinced them to perform for the family.

Guests enjoyed dinner in the newly built Salle de Bûcher, the former woodshed of the Pol Roger family home, where they were served the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2013 in Jeroboam.

The room sits some 30 metres above the Pol Roger cellars in which lies 10 million bottles of maturing champagne. Less than 100 metres away sits 44 Avenue de Champagne, the former home of Jacques and Odette Pol Roger and immortalised by Winston Churchill as “The most drinkable address in the world.”

Speaking at the event, Hubert de Billy, the fifth generation of the Pol Roger family, highlighted the shared history and milestones of both families, while noting that 2024 marks numerous significant anniversaries: the 175th anniversary of Pol Roger and the 150th birthday of Winston Churchill, as well as the 80th anniversary of both D-Day and the liberation of Epernay. De Billy also paid tribute to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and their historic ties to Pol Roger.

Paul Rafferty, born Oxford in 1965, moved from London to California in 1989, where he wrote, recorded and performed with the likes of Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, Pat Benatar and Johnny Hallyday. In 2008, as an artist, he moved to the French Riviera where he became fascinated by Winston Churchill’s paintings in Provence. Having exhibited around the world he is represented by the Portland Gallery in London and has his own gallery in St-Paul-de-Vence on the Riviera.

Churchill was an avid painter, having taken it up during a family holiday in 1915 and continued the hobby throughout his life, creating over 500 works depicting a variety of subjects, including his goldfish pond at Chartwell and the landscapes of Marrakesh.

Jennie Churchill said of the ceremony, “WSC will be very happy here knowing the Champagne beneath him will never run out!”

As previously reported by db, Pol Roger estimates that Churchill drank 42,000 bottles of Pol Roger in his lifetime.

This total equates to roughly 2 bottles / pints (a measure formerly used for Champagne bottles destined for the UK) a day from 1908 – which was the date of the first invoice – until his death in 1965.

Churchill only drank vintage Champagne, with his favourite harvest-dated Pol Roger release being the 1928, and, “when he drank Pol Roger out of that, he moved to 1935, then 1945 and, finally, the 1947.”

This Churchill sculpture has been place immediately outside Pol Roger’s new high-tech production facility that has been three years and £50 million in the making.

Read more

Churchill and Champagne Pol Roger: charting an extraordinary connection

Pol Roger to unveil new £50 million production facility in 2024

Churchill drank two bottles of Champagne a day

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