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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.
This 100% Chardonnay is sourced exclusively from vineyards Grand Cru vineyards of Cramant, Les Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Oiry in the Côte des Blancs.
Vinification: The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing and the second, a débourbage à froid, in stainless steel tanks at 6°C over a 24 hour period. A slow cool fermentation with the temperature kept under 18°C takes place in stainless steel with each variety and each village kept separate. The wine undergoes a full malolactic-fermentation prior to final blending. Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9°C in the deepest Pol Roger cellars (33 metres below street level) where the wine is kept until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand, a rarity in Champagne nowadays. The very fine and persistent mousse for which Pol Roger is renowned owes much to these deep, cool and damp cellars.
The Blanc de Blancs 2015 is notable for its very pale gold hue, delicately tinged with green tints and set off by a steady bead of fine bubbles. The first nose is expressive and powerful, offering up an array of fragrances blending lemon zest and pastry. Its creamy evolution creates a lovely, luscious character. After breathing, the wine exudes complex aromas of mocha and cocoa, followed by notes of confectionery and fresh butter combined with the scent of orange zest with a remarkable elegance. The palate reveals buttery notes with hints of patisserie. Hazelnut liqueur and toasted overtones then gradually come through to complete this aromatic profile, which is imbued with a lovely tangy freshness. This is a rich, luscious champagne combining power and finesse.
A wet winter and mild spring gave way to an exceptionally dry summer from mid-May onwards. Hot weather prevailed until mid-August, when the skies opened again. Rains gave way to fine, cool, yet sunny weather for the first two weeks of harvest, which commenced on August 29th. The 2015 vintage has a lot of common denominators with the 2003 vintage but the 2015s are showing a better balance of weight and freshness with their average potential alcohol level of 10.5% and total acidity of 6.9 g/l. The quality and ageing capacity of the vintage has been questioned because of the low acidity, but to me the structure of the wine is not the problem; the aromatics are. Initially as vins clairs, I found the wines to come with ample, attractive fruitiness. The vegetal, particularly ash-like aromatics were subdued but have since then become amplified, especially in the vintage bottlings. Drought issues are considered to be the culprit to these widely spread aromatic issues of the year. I have come notably down from my initial assessment. However, most vintage and prestige cuvées are yet to surface from the cellars and their quality will make or break the vintage.