Pol Roger, Sir Winston Churchill 2009 released
This morning, Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2009 was released in the UK at £1,360 per 12×75, 3% lower than the 2008 vintage release (£1,400 per 12×75).
The 2009 Sir Winston Churchill is the 18th available vintage since the wine’s inaugural release in 1975, as Pol Roger only makes the wine in “truly outstanding years”. During the wine’s official launch event earlier this month, Pol Roger’s Director, Hubert de Billy, claimed: “If 2008 was a vintage for collectors, 2009 is a vintage for drinkers”. He added humorously, “It’s so that the people who want to age 2008 have something decent to drink”.
Prices for Sir Winston Churchill are not closely correlated to critic score, instead vintages appreciate as they age, as the chart above shows. However, the 2008 vintage is the exception and it is currently the most expensive vintage from the last two decades. It was described by Paul Graham, Pol Roger’s Director of Business Development, as the “best vintage since 1988 and most investible Churchill we’ve ever made”. Buyers confident in its quality might, therefore, see relative value in its price.
Last year, the 2008 vintage increased 28.5% the first day of trading yet remained cheaper than vintages 1998 and older. As the 2009 awaits scores from major critics, the market also waits to see where the vintage will move from release.
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.
Warmest conditions since 2003, optimal maturity, healthy fruit. Balanced wines with average sugars, lower acidities. High overall maturity. Vintage year for some, principally récoltants-manipulants (individual growers). In ’09, new EU rules reduced dosage for Brut to 12 g/l.