The relationship between Champagne Pol Roger and Sir Winston Churchill dates back to a providential meeting at a luncheon given by the British Ambassador to France some months after the liberation of Paris at which was served the sumptuous 1928 vintage of Pol Roger. Attending the lunch was the beautiful Odette Pol-Roger as well as the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, with whom she struck up an instant rapport. A friendship was born which continued until Churchill’s death, creating links between the Pol-Roger and Churchill families which are still as strong to this day.
The pressures of his post sadly prevented Churchill ever paying a visit to 44 Avenue de Champagne, the home of Champagne Pol Roger, but he nonetheless proclaimed it “the most drinkable address in the world”. As recompense for breaking his promise to visit he sent Odette a copy of his Memoirs inscribed “Cuvée de Réserve, mise en bouteille au Château de Chartwell”. He even named one of his racehorses “Pol Roger” and the lly strode to victory at Kempton Park in 1953, Coronation Year.
THE “CUVÉE SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL”
Champagne Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée in homage to Sir Winston Churchill mindful of the qualities that he sought in his champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. The exact blend is a closely guarded family secret but it is undeniable that the composition would meet with the approval of the man to whom it is dedicated: “My tastes are simple, I am easily satisfied with the best”. Pinot Noir predominates, providing structure, breadth and robustness whilst Chardonnay contributes elegance, nesse and subtlety. Composed exclusively of grapes sourced from Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards which were already under vine during Churchill’s lifetime, “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” is only made in the very best vintages and is always released later than the other vintage dated Champagnes from Pol Roger, marking Churchill’s appreciation for older wines.
PREVIOUS VINTAGES OF THE CUVÉE
The first “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” was from the 1975 vintage and was released, in magnum only, in 1984, with the launch taking place at Blenheim Palace. There followed 1979, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004 and now 2006. The latest vintage, 2006, is the sixteenth and is released only after 10 years cellaring. Produced in very small quantities, it is available in 75cl bottle and 1.5L magnum.
THE STORY OF THE VINTAGE
The first three months of 2006 were very dry, followed by two months of heavy rainfall. Without a spring frost, the development of the vines was promising. A warm and sunny June provided optimal conditions for flowering. August was cold and humid, however, it was followed by warmth and sunshine in September, which encouraged an exceptional development of the bunches and the grapes were very healthy at the time of the harvest.
The earliest parcels were picked on 6th September and the latest on 25th September. The 2006 vintage displayed a potential average degree of 10.2% and total acidity: 7H2SO4g/l.
Mid lemon-yellow colour. Notably more restrained than the 2004; youthful powerful stone fruit, spice and wild strawberry aromas. Full bodied and dense on the palate requiring time to unravel. Vinous and broad with lots of autolytic character and a fine thread of acidity. Will benefit from time. Best from 2017-2025 +
The weight, balance and mineral freshness means that this champagne could be served with Parmigano Reggiano matured for 18 months, a stuffed capon “facon demi-deuil” or sweetbreads cooked with morels.
Tyson Stelzer : 97 / 100
Wine Spectator: 95 / 100
Guide des vins Bettane et Desseauve 2018 : 19 /20
Jancis Robinson : 18.5 / 20
Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France 2018 : 18 /20
Wine Enthusiast : 98 / 100
“This is the latest release of this legendary wine. A blend, although with a majority of Pinot Noir (Churchill’s preference), the wine is rich, just beginning to show wonderful signs of maturity. It still has intense fruit along with the taut mineral texture that will allow the wine to age further. It is a standout Champagne from this vintage. Drink now, although this Champagne will age for many years.”
The Wine Advocate : 95 / 100
“Made in the very best vintages, Pol Roger’s white-golden colored 2006 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill offers a very clear, precise, ripe and complex bouquet with fruity and refreshingly chalky, butty and brioche notes. Full-bodied and complex on the palate, the 2006 is supple, round and rich but also fine, elegant, fresh and well structured. It has a harmonious yet tight, persistent and very promising finish that puts this silky textured, Pinot-dominated cuvée (the exact blend is a closely guarded family secret) on the boarder of fatty richness. But the mousse gives so much freshness and finesse that everything seems lifted here. Though I have very limited experience with matured Champagnes from Pol Roger and namely Churchill, I supposed the 2006 will benefit a lot from further bottle aging. But don’t get me wrong: the wine is already gorgeous. Tasked June 2018, disgorged in June 2017.”