x
  • Country ranking ?

    956
  • Producer ranking ?

    9
  • Decanting time

    No
  • When to drink

    2020-2035
  • Food Pairing

    Seafood, Salads & Consommes

The Story

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.

 

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 and now 2004. The latest vintage, 2004, is the fifteenth and is released only after 11 years cellaring. Produced in very small quantities, it is available in 75cl bottle and 1.5L magnum.

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Vintage 1996

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”.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

27 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep, Yellow and Bright

ending

Long, Flavorful and Extensive

flavors

Apricot, Toasty, Mineral, Steely, Citrus and White fruits

nose

Youthful, Ripe, Complex and Fresh

recommend

Yes

taste

High in Acidity, Balanced, Concentrated, Well-Integrated, Developing, Medium-bodied, Round, Harmonious, Silky and Dry

Verdict

Intelligent and Sophisticated

Written Notes

Probably the foremost Winston Churchill that the world has ever seen since the prime minister passed away! Incomparably grand and impressive. This wine thunders forth like a symphony by Beethoven. The kettle drums are at full blast and the bass is impossibly heavy. But still, Pol Roger's eminently amiable drinkable quality and elevating acid are present. A wine with which to fill your cellar. Fairly soon to enter a tunnel unfortunately, so hang on for a while!
  • 96p
We started appropriately with an ambassador of sorts, the 1996 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill. It’s an ambassador not only due to the man after whom it was named, but also because it remains a great value (arguably greatest) for one of the Top Ten luxury cuvees made in Champagne. In fact, at a December dinner at Chateau Lafite, I was reminded how good even the regular non-vintage Pol Roger is when it was served before dinner. That, too, remains one of the great buys in bubbly, still less than $30 a bottle. The 1996 was a great way to start off the evening, delivering an outstanding experience from the word go. Its nose had picture perfect balance between its sweetness, fruit and structural components. Big Boy called it, ‘Krug-like with its green apples.’ Golden aromas showered over its minerally, slaty, racy and wound personality. BB kept harping on its ‘slaty’ qualities, also appreciating its ‘mid-palate depth.’ It did have that, flashing its fruit in the mouth like an Ali jab. There was great toast to this complex bubbly, but BB felt it was ‘missing the pitch and citricity of 6-star,’ though I countered that it was still a bit young for 6-star status, and that many wines need to blossom into that category. However, a couple of other bubblies would soon remind us that 6-star status is something that can come across even at a young age
  • 95p
Medium-intense pale yellow colour, vivid bubbles. Fresh, very intense nose but still closed – citrus aromas with yeasty twist. Crisp and concentrated palate with high acidity and very mineral flavours. Hints of lemon and biscuit flavours but still very tight and one dimensional. Will definitely improve after at least 5 to 7 years ageing. If served now decant 15 minutes before.
  • 89p

Information

Origin

Epernay, Champagne

Other wines from this producer

Blanc de Blancs

Blanc de Blancs Vinothèque

Brut Réserve

Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Vinothèque

Pol Roger Vinothèque

Pol Roger vintage

Pol Roger vintage rosé

Pure

Reserve de Wermacht

Rich

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

96p
 Richard Juhlin / The number One champagne expert in the world, Pro (Sweden)  tasted  Sir Winston Churchill 1996  ( Pol Roger )

"Probably the foremost Winston Churchill that the world has ever seen since the prime minister passed away! Incomparably grand and impressive. This wine thunders forth like a symphony by Beethoven. The kettle drums are at full blast and the bass is impossibly heavy. But still, Pol Roger's eminently amiable drinkable quality and elevating acid are present. A wine with which to fill your cellar. Fairly soon to enter a tunnel unfortunately, so hang on for a while!"

1y 4m ago

97p
 Cashile Pienaar / Sommelier, Pro (South Africa)  tasted  Sir Winston Churchill 1996  ( Pol Roger )

"One of the greatest Cuvée Sir Winston Churchills ever made"

1y 9m ago

95p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Sir Winston Churchill 1996  ( Pol Roger )

"We started appropriately with an ambassador of sorts, the 1996 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill. It’s an ambassador not only due to the man after whom it was named, but also because it remains a great value (arguably greatest) for one of the Top Ten luxury cuvees made in Champagne. In fact, at a December dinner at Chateau Lafite, I was reminded how good even the regular non-vintage Pol Roger is when it was served before dinner. That, too, remains one of the great buys in bubbly, still less than $30 a bottle. The 1996 was a great way to start off the evening, delivering an outstanding experience from the word go. Its nose had picture perfect balance between its sweetness, fruit and structural components. Big Boy called it, ‘Krug-like with its green apples.’ Golden aromas showered over its minerally, slaty, racy and wound personality. BB kept harping on its ‘slaty’ qualities, also appreciating its ‘mid-palate depth.’ It did have that, flashing its fruit in the mouth like an Ali jab. There was great toast to this complex bubbly, but BB felt it was ‘missing the pitch and citricity of 6-star,’ though I countered that it was still a bit young for 6-star status, and that many wines need to blossom into that category. However, a couple of other bubblies would soon remind us that 6-star status is something that can come across even at a young age"

1y 10m ago

89p
 Pekka Nuikki / Founder of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Sir Winston Churchill 1996  ( Pol Roger )

"Medium-intense pale yellow colour, vivid bubbles. Fresh, very intense nose but still closed – citrus aromas with yeasty twist. Crisp and concentrated palate with high acidity and very mineral flavours. Hints of lemon and biscuit flavours but still very tight and one dimensional. Will definitely improve after at least 5 to 7 years ageing. If served now decant 15 minutes before. "

4y 8m ago

97p
 Essi Avellan MW / Editor of the Champagne magazine, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Sir Winston Churchill 1996  ( Pol Roger )

"Deep golden colour. Overt, rich red fruit, honey and dry cake nose. Lovely coffee, very fluffy, generous, voluptuos, mouthfilling, concentrated and long palate. Not veruy much develop,emt over the last 2 years. Energetic and lovely. Sulphuric, fresh, tropical and long. But still going up."

4y 9m ago

93p
 Edward Cuvée, Pro (Finland)  tasted  Sir Winston Churchill 1996  ( Pol Roger )

"Sir Winston 96 :( Clos de Goisses 02 :)"

5y 2m ago

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