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An intense golden-yellow color dresses the Pol Roger prestige cuvée 2004 Sir Winston Churchill, which opens with a clear, deep, dense, ripe, fresh, pure and elegant bouquet of matured apples, apricots and lemon flavors along with exciting spicy flavors. Although this Brut is already more than 11-years-old, it is dew-fresh and still developing--slowly. This Champagne is highly complex and well structured on the palate, with grapefruit flavors; it is a full-bodied and intense, yet very firm, persistent, fresh and very elegant assemblage of unnamed Grand Cru Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. It reveals a very long and complex, powerful but stimulating finish, and obviously, an eternal youth. The finish is powerful and stringent, and reveals a great, great aging potential. The wine is somewhat restrained and too compact at the moment though, and should benefit from a longer bottle aging.
|Score: 95+||Stephan Reinhardt, Wine Advocate (223), March 2016|
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.
A cold winter and a mild late spring cued for a perfect June allowing early and fast flowering. Outstanding weather conditions prevailed and the season went on without dramatic turns. Rains in August raised concerns regarding gray rot, but finally sunshine and dry conditions throughout September resulted in an abundant crop of largely healthy fruit (11,930 kg/ha). Dehydration due to wind further aided in achieving perfect ripeness and additional concentration. This, and the cool nights, helped in retaining fresh acidity and, despite the ripeness (10.3% potential alcohol), the wines did not suffer from heaviness or a lack of life. A near-perfect vintage, which produced balanced Champagnes consistently around the region. The best show an impeccable combination of freshness, power, structure and finesse. However, some have matured aromatically quicker than expected and are already past their peak. 2002 produced an abundance of spectacular champagnes, such as Dom Pérignon (the entire range), Krug Vintage and Clos du Mesnil, Piper-Heidsieck Rare, Louis Roederer Cristal and Cristal Rosé, Ruinart Dom Ruinart and Dom Ruinart Rosé, Salon Le Mesnil and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, to name a few.