Pol Roger recently celebrated its 150th anniversary and is perhaps best known as Winston Churchill's favourite Champagne. Established in 1849, Champagne Pol Roger remains family-owned and proudly independent to this day. Pol Roger, the 1831 born founder of the house, had lived in the Grand Cru village of Aÿ his whole childhood. The whole family supported the enterprise of their son. From early on Pol Roger focused in exports, and the English market was the most important one from the beginning. The commercial success of the company had its roots in the business model where they produced other champagne brands in the Pol Roger facilities. Pol Roger is one of the few remaining family owned Grande Marque champagne businesses.
Churchill and Champagne
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born in 1874, in the same year as Pol Roger’s first vintage champagne. This wine was to make Pol Roger famous on the English market. Equally, Winston Churchill was to grow into a statesman of the highest rank. In addition to having been selected as the most significant person in British history, he was also awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. This multi-talented man was a skilled polo player, oil painter and carpenter. His interest in wine, cigars and gastronomy is well-known.
Champagne was by far Churchill’s favourite drink. Even during the war years he never travelled without at least one case of Pol Roger champagne, the vintage 1828 being his preference. Churchill’s alcohol consumption was vast, but he never appeared drunken thanks to his well-trained tolerance for alcohol. Legend says that there was always a measure of alcohol in Churchill’s blood. Labour Party Member of Parliament Bessie Braddock once told Churchill off for being drunk, to which the wordy man replied: “Bessie, you are ugly. But in the morning I will be sober”.
Churchill was a disciplined and determined man who started his morning by working in his bed. He read the daily newspapers and communications and dictated assignments. He even received visitors sitting by his bed side with Nelson, his cat, keeping him company at the foot of the bed. It was quite often during the tough years of war that he started drinking wine already in the morning. He, if anyone, had the weight of a nation on his shoulders. If possible Churchill stayed in bed all morning. He would gather together friends, relatives, politicians and army leaders for lunch. War strategy was discussed over lunch with the help of champagne and brandy. In the afternoon Winston Churchill needed a rest to refresh him for the evening’s meetings. Churchill entertained his dinner guests night after night with unlimited champagne, cognac and cigars. He commonly got to bed only at around three or four in the morning. Churchill’s lavish alcohol consumption was criticized from time to time. He defended himself by saying: ”I can only say having gotten more out of alcohol than it has gotten out of me”.