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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.
The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediatly 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 seperate. 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 Champagne harvest 2013– late, but potentially outstanding
It has been another strange year for Champagne, starting with a cold, wet winter, followed by a gloomy, chilly spring with a lot of rain. Vine development started two weeks behind the ten-year average, and never made up for that lost time.
Along the way came a hot dry summer, boosting fruit quality thanks to the most sunshine ever recorded in Champagne in July and August.
Rain came from 6 September onwards, which helped to fatten the berries - then fortunately stopped in time to allow good conditions for final ripening. Considering the lateness of the harvest, the weather this year was exceptionally good – almost summer-like with unusually warm temperatures and sunshine, and a wind from the east to help keep the grapes healthy.
It was a year of big differences in the timing of the harvest, with picking in the most precocious plots starting on 24 September and in the slower-ripening areas on 9 October. Most plots commenced harvesting in the first days of October – the latest start date seen in Champagne for two decades.
Bearing in mind the economic situation, Champagne's governing body has set the yield limit at 10,000 kilos per hectare. Most crus should achieve this yield, excepting only a few that were partially affected by millerandage (shot berries), hailstorms and botrytis.
An average potential alcohol of nearly 10% ABV and good acidity averaging around 8.5g H2SO4 per litre together suggest a promising balance for the eventual wine. The Champenois are already drawing favourable comparisons with the vintages of 1983, 1988 and 1998 – these too being the product of late harvests.