Pol Roger Portfolio

"If I were to choose just one house from which to source a vintage champagne to lay down, there is no question that I would choose Pol Roger." Tom Stevenson

A Century of Pol Roger Vintages

1893-1919 | 1920-1939 | 1940-1959 | 1960-1979 | 1980-2000

A Foretaste: 1892 Tasting prior to a Christie's auction in October 1998, Tom Stevenson wrote: "Pol Roger 1892 not only has a fizz and a bright gold colour but is blessed with a fabulous honeyed-coffee aroma, great length, class and finesse." It achieved one of the highest prices at that auction.


If not the best (1892 and 1899 were superior), this was one of the more remarkable vintages of the 1890s. Product of a hot and dry summer, the crop was large and generous. The wines were well-regarded when young. Lacking in acidity, however, they tended to oxidise early.

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Writing to his British agent in the spring of 1895, Pol Roger predicted the harvest would be very small. This is one of the Pol Roger vintages known to have been ordered by Winston Churchill from the London wine merchants Randolph Payne & Co.

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An above-average vintage in terms of both quantity and quality, it was overshadowed by the finer 1899 and 1900. Curiously, a similar sequence of three good vintages in a row, a rare phenomenon in Champagne, was to occur exactly ninety years later.

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The 1900 was rich and abundant. Soft, charming and forward, it was able, nonetheless, to stand the test of time. André Simon, recalling the harvest of 1900, writes of "...the most magnificent wine-making grapes I ever saw, perfectly sound and ripe."

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One of the finest vintages of the decade, the year was remarkable for quantity and quality.

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A sound vintage of average size, it has been rated as another of the best of the decade. Beginning on September 18, the harvest was completed in fine, sunny weather. High degrees of natural alcohol were recorded. Tom Stevenson, tasting it in 1998, describes it as "deep and sweet, with lovely coffee aromas," though, understandably, beginning to tire.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1909The 1909 crop was reduced by late spring frosts and picked in the rain. A triumph over adversity, it was a small vintage of sound quality and particularly welcomed as the 1907 and 1908 vintages had both been spoiled by rain or mildew. The 1910 vintage that followed was also a disaster.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1911This has been described as the finest vintage since 1874. A small, early and concentrated harvest, it began on September 9. The unusual thickness of the grape skins was reported, which is always a pointer to longevity. Michael Broadbent, M. W., tasting in 1989, describes, "A soft nutty-walnut, hazelnut-scent and taste, rather like a creamy old chardonnay." This is one of the greatest Pol Roger vintages.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1914Harvested to the sound of guns, Maurice Pol-Roger predicted that, "The 1914 would produce the wine to drink with victory." His own notes on the cuvée disgorged in 1944, describe, "A superb golden colour....Few traces of mousse remaining.., an irresistible nose of coffee and vanilla...unctuous, creamy in the mouth, with...astonishing vinosity and enduring flavours of orange, toast, rum." Contemporary tastings of this great vintage confirm these impressions.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1915Faced with a large harvest of good quality and lack of manpower because of the war, an excellent vintage was eventually produced after an extended vendange. When tasted in 1967, it was described as "a great year. Harmonious, complete and well-balanced."

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1919This was an excellent, harmonious vintage composed (as were all Pol Roger vintages prior to the Second World War) of eighty per cent pinot noir, twenty per cent chardonnay. Tasters have found a wonderful integration of opulent fruit, firm structure and bewitching complexity.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1921Deep frosts in the spring, the driest June and July since 1911 and record summer temperatures produced a small harvest of exceptional concentration and finesse. Comparatively rare as only a small quantity was produced, the Pol Roger 1921 is one of the great vintages. It still retained a discreet mousse when tasted in 1998 and the depth and vinosity hint at the weight of fruit it once displayed. Complex aromas of caramel, vanilla, coffee and fresh field mushrooms are combined in a stunning bouquet.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1923This is a lesser-known vintage, not least because the yield was low and production limited. The vintage has a high reputation, despite the uneven quality of the grapes that necessitated careful selection. It was described as "a medium-bodied, fruity, supple vintage" when tasted in the 1960s.

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Another small, concentrated harvest of fine quality; the shortage of grapes was caused by severe hail-storms in July and the predations of Cochylis moths. It has been tasted rarely in recent years, but when tasted in 1967, the reaction was, "excellent vintage, seductive and full-flavoured. Acidity lower than usual. Not as long-lasting as the 1921s."

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Recognised as one of the finest of the century, it was a particular favourite of Winston Churchill to whom it was shipped until 1953. Muscular, full-bodied and slow-maturing, it was a plentiful, five-star vintage. A curiosity from 1928 is an astonishing blanc de blancs from the village of Grauves, produced by Pol Roger as a vin de réserve. Almost colourless, with a tinge of green and a gentle but persistent mousse, Tom Stevenson describes this as "the youngest-tasting oldest champagne I have ever encountered."

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1929This is another great vintage and an interesting counterpoint to the 1928. It offers generosity and voluptuousness in place of the robust intensity of the 1928. The 1929 had an instant appeal and charm, the product of a rapid flowering, a growing season that was problem-free and grapes picked at optimum ripeness.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1933Beset with early difficulties (uneven flowering and Cochylis), this small vintage was saved by a perfect late summer and dry conditions during the harvest. Pol Roger & Cie. made a careful selection from a variable crop and produced a vintage described when tasted in 1967 as, "Rich, solid and vinous."

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1934Another Churchillian favourite, this full-bodied vintage succeeded the 1928 in his affections. The 1934, one of the two best vintages of the decade, was generous in both quantity and character. The chardonnays were particularly successful, though still the minor component in all Pol Roger cuvées. Tasting it in 1984, Michael Broadbent described "a lovely colour, bright, shot with gold... a smoky old chardonnay bouquet... good mature taste and nice spritz-like uplift...."

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1937A harvest of average quantity, the quality of the 1937 places it as the finest of the decade and among the best of the half century. In the late 1990s, it was in excellent form: aromas fresh and inviting, palate full of lively fruit and layers of flavour and intensity, the finish indicating reserves of energy still in store. Part of the secret is acidity which often is overlooked, but is as vital a component in assuring longevity as the concentration of the fruit (the "extract") and a healthy portion of tannins.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1942A good vintage of average quantity, it was harvested under the difficult conditions imposed by the war. When tasted in 1967 it was described as "a fine, classic year, perfectly balanced and elegant."

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1943This was reputed to be an excellent vintage. Described as "heavier than the 1942 vintage" in 1967, it was "another good year.. mainly fuller and more fruity."

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1945This was an exceptional vintage of remarkable power and concentration. Initially austere (the thickness of the grapeskins was remarked upon), the Pol Roger 1945 was built to last, with muscular tannins framing the depth of fruit within.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1947This was a sensuous, complex, slow-maturing wine. The 1947 harvest was the earliest since 1898. Despite its precocious fruit, it has developed into a graceful middle age, still revealing hidden depths of flavour and complexity behind its prevailing richness.

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Of average quantity, the 1949 harvest was the product of an initially difficult growing season, saved by a long, hot summer. The 1949 has more noticeable acidity than the 1947, contributing to a fine intensity of fruit and a notably lingering finish. Serena Sutcliffe describes the Pol Roger 1949 as "one of the stars" of this generally successful vintage.

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Despite frequent rain through the growing season, the 1952 vintage was harvested early. For Tom Stevenson, "this was the best champagne [in 1986] that I had ever tasted. Twelve years later, it remains in my top ten." Showings of this vintage in the 1990s revealed that it maintained a surprisingly youthful colour and a gentle, persistent mousse: on the palate it was firm and crisp, with a pleasing nuttiness and long, positive finish.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1953Although swollen by rain a few days before the harvest, and thus more abundant than anticipated, it is a well-reputed vintage. Pol Roger 1953 has great style and charm and retained power and balance in the 1990s.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1955The Pol Roger 1955 has proved a magnificent vin de garde, spurred on by a high natural acidity. The vintage was picked early as a precautionary measure, following an extended growing cycle. Abundant in quantity, the 1955 well-rewarded those prepared to wait for it to reveal its true colours. Firm, dry and complex, it retains an excellent structure and richness of fruit at its centre.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1959A vintage of extraordinary opulence, its golden colour is redolent of the long, sunlit days of an exceptional summer and early autumn. Despite its ripe, honeyed character (the musts showed unusually high natural alcohol levels of eleven per cent), the Pol Roger 1959 was balanced from the outset by a necessary acidity, resulting in a perfect natural harmony. With lovely floral notes on the nose and a voluptuous palate that in the late 1990s was beginning to dry a little on the finish, this is another of the great Pol Roger vintages.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1961This was an excellent vintage in Champagne. With a better acidity than the 1959 and lacking only the 1959's plumpness of fruit, the 1961 is a well-structured, elegant vintage of balance and personality. Its relatively high proportion of pinot noir (seventy-five percent) has contributed to its longevity.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1962The growing season was cool and dry in its early stages and the Pol Roger 1962 reflected this in a certain youthful austerity. The vintage was late opening on October 4. The wines can be described as late developers. Most came good and the Pol Roger 1962 was soon revealed as a vintage of strength, character and persistence.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1964At the time, this was the largest Champagne harvest ever recorded. A more classical vintage than the 1959 in that none of its original components was so exaggerated, the ripeness of the 1964 reminds one nonetheless of that year. In 1999, the fruit was turning to alluring tones of vanilla and caramel with advancing maturity. This is an excellent, rewarding vintage.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1966This was a smaller, more concentrated vintage than the 1964, though no less highly rated. The young wines of 1966 were condensed, sinewy and slow to mature; but once through adolescence they offered great complexity and finesse to match their evident power. The Pol Roger 1966s still possessed reserves of character in 1999.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1969Summer storms and widespread outbreaks of mildew gave way only in late summer to hot, dry conditions. The vintage was healthy, but small. The wines were characterised by a lively, natural acidity, combined with a good weight of fruit on the palate. The wine has retained a surprising freshness and vigour.

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Considering the succession of viticultural challenges which confronted the growers in 1971 (frost, hail, severe rainstorms, the onset of rot, etc.) the excellence of the resulting vintage is remarkable. Pol Roger 1971 is very fine, with an excellent balance of fruit and acidity, though a certain lift to the bouquet and a steely intensity on the finish in the late 1990s still hints at the "green" character noted in some of the musts as the grapes were picked before they reached optimum ripeness.

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Its fine quality was produced by an exceptionally hot summer. Heavy rain swelled the grapes in September and induced a record quantity. The Pol Roger 1973 is distinguished by a purity of flavour, driven by what Michael Broadbent describes as its "nervous system" of naturally high acidity. Poised and elegant, this is one of Pol Roger & Cie.'s more feminine vintages. It is still delightful, though in the late 1990s it was beginning to lose some of its earlier weight on the palate.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1975A stylish, elegant vintage, not initially predicted for long keeping, it was the inaugural vintage of the "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" bottled only in magnum. With its higher proportion of pinot noir, the cuvée is unusually robust for the vintage which produced relatively soft, delicate wines.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1976This was an extraordinary year, fashioned by the drought which affected most of northern Europe during a long, hot summer. The vintage was large and generous. The musts were rich in extract and high in natural sugars. Some lacked acidity, giving cause for concern that the wines would age prematurely. The 1976 Pol Roger handsomely confounded such predictions. When it was tasted in 1998, it was still in adolescence: remarkably pale, with fresh, vibrant fruit and only a first hint of the complexity to come. This is one of the great Pol Roger vintages.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1979Pol Roger is a superbly elegant wine which combines great intensity of flavour with a spare, finely balanced frame. The harvest was late, beginning on October 3, and the grapes were picked in excellent condition. From the start, the young wines showed a racy acidity which has extended their aging. Pol Roger 1979 is often described as a "classical vintage."

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1982Memorably described at their launch by Christian de Billy as "quite simply stupendous," the appeal of the Pol Roger 1982s (as in 1975 and 1979 a full range of cuvées, including the "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill", were produced) derives from grapes picked in virtually perfect condition. The brut 1982 is maturing superbly and retains its original charm.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1983A respectable vintage in quality despite its record size, the Pol Roger 1983 lacks the substance of the 1982. While retaining much of its fruit, it has aged more rapidly. A lighter, fresher style of vintage with appeal for earlier drinking.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1985This is one of the smaller vintages of the 1980s and one of the best. The Pol Roger 1985s are powerful, sturdy vins de garde, which are only entering their prime in the late 1990s. The growing season began with a bitter winter which destroyed many vines. The ripening was late and there was even a rare second harvest in October as autumn gave way to an Indian summer. The balance of the wines is excellent, with plump, ripe fruit matched by good acidity.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1986The 1986 Pol Rogers are lighter, racier wines than the 1985s, more accessible when young and inevitably faster maturing. Nevertheless, the cuvées were considered sufficiently well-constituted for a Churchill vintage to be declared. By the late 1990s, the "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill" 1986 was developing into a nutty, elegant maturity.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1988The 1980s ended with that rarity in Champagne of three excellent vintages in a row. Some consider 1988 the finest. It will be fascinating to see which, between the 1988 and the 1990, will last the longer. The Pol Roger 1988s (a full range of cuvées were made) have a classical poise and balance. Austere when young, the severity has mellowed with adolescence and the under-lying richness of the fruit has been increasingly revealed. This is a very fine vintage.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1989The 1989 Pol Roger is an open, charming vintage with lovely floral scents and creamy, well-integrated palate, the product of an unusually early harvest which opened on September 4. Reminiscent of 1982, but without its opulence and weight, Pol Roger 1989 is not a marathon runner like the 1988 or 1990, but has considerable appeal and style.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1990Undoubtedly the most fashionable of the trio, and arguably the finest overall, 1990 has an almost oriental opulence. Despite spring frosts, an extended flowering and the hottest summer in thirty years, punctuated by timely showers, the grapes were picked in perfect condition. As in any truly great vintage, the balance in the musts was found to be ideal: high natural sugars and lively acidity. When first released, a brilliant buttery golden tone in the 1990 indicated the ripeness of the fruit within. The vivacity of the mousse, the intensity on the palate and the crispness and length of the finish are pointers to a long life ahead.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1993This is a racy, elegant vintage which, in early adolescence, recalls the 1983 and 1986: elegant and svelte with a fresh, inviting nose with tones of creamy fruit, warm brioche and early hints of complexity.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1995The 1995 vintage ranks among the most successful Champagne harvests of the decade following a mild wet winter, a sunny spring and hot summer. Two localised frosts caused minor vine damage following budding in April but flowering took place under clear skies at the end of June. Harvest began with the Chardonnays on 18th September and finished with the red grapes on 3rd October. Abundant fruit permitted an extremely thorough selection process and quite often the use of only the first light pressings. Ripeness in the Chardonnays was balanced by higher than average acidity in the Pinots Noirs auguring a good well-balanced vintage with excellent keeping qualities.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1996Extremely favourable weather conditions produced what is regarded as one of the finest vintages of the 1990s. Flowering was completed in the second fortnight of June. The month of August was hot, while September was marked by a sequence of sunshine and occasional rainfalls. Picking began with the Chardonnays on 20th September and finished with the last red grapes on 4th October. The harvest was both healthy and abundant, producing grapes of high natural sugar content and an excellent level of acidity (c 10o), indicating an exceptional overall balance and long ageing potential. Early comparisons were drawn with 1955.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1998The growing season in 1998 was a year of extremes and contrasts. Severe frosts were experienced at bud burst in April with the Chardonnays taking the brunt; outbursts of hail, rain and frost followed on until flowering in the middle of June; August provided scorching heat leading to a 10% loss of the crop across the region but September started with a fortnight of interminable rain which swelled the grapes and provided in the end a final climatic somersault which proved vital in producing a stunning vintage. The grapes showed an average alcoholic potential of 9.8% by volume, with a satisfying total acidity of 8.3 gH2SO4/l and 8.3 g/l of tartaric acid, signifying that the key ingredients of a great vintage were present.

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 1999This vintage was characterised by higher than usual temperatures (+1.8 C) throughout the growing season and by heavier than normal rainfall, spread throught the vegatitive cycle. Bud burst began on 6th April for Chardonnay through to 13th for Pinot Meunier. Apart from some hail, which completely destroyed some 450 hectares and affected some 2840 ha in all, the season from May to harvest passed without incident. The vendange started o 19th September and finished on 1st October. The rains which fell during the harvest did not prevent a record harvest though there was some dilution- 0.5% volume of potential alcohol and 1 gramme of total acidity. The harvest was nonetheless exceptional combining very healthy grapes with very decent maturity (9.9% volume)

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Pol Roger Vintage Cap 20002000 was a vintage that "came right" at the last minute, thanks to a fine Indian summer. Contrary to wide spread fears, the resultant crop was healthy as well as abundant, and Pol Roger was able to declare the vintage. The growing cycle was a difficult one through most of its stages, one of its early features being the great gale which swept across Northern France on 26th December. The spring was wet and mild, but the sun came out for the flowering in the middle weeks of June. July opened with hailstorms on the 2nd, followed by three times the average rainfall for the month. If these rains were to determine the quantity, "Août fait le goût" and, despite some further scattered hailstorms the weather settled down to give dry and warm conditions for the picking, which began in the earliest Crus on 13th September.

The grapes came in in sound condition and produced musts with an average alcohol of 9.9º(slightly above the average for the decade), a total acidity of 7.6g/l H2S04, and a relatively high pH of 3.11. The available AOC yield was 12,000kg/ha., with 1600 kg/ha. deducted for the "réserve qualitative". The equivalent of 318.4 million bottles were produced across the whole of the Champagne region.

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