x
  • Country ranking ?

    663
  • Producer ranking ?

    13
  • Decanting time

    20min
  • When to drink

    now to 2035
  • Food Pairing

    sushi

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New Release: Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2012

 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2012. Pol Roger release their vintage champagnes only in top rated vintages, the last being 2009. Today Pol Roger are launching the latest vintage, Sir Winston Churchill 2012. This cuvée marking the 19th release since the inaugural vintage of 1975. 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. Sir Winston Churchill was a lifelong champagne enthusiast. However, his loyalty was undoubtedly sealed at a lunch given by the British Ambassador to France, Duff Cooper, on November 12th, 1945.

As always the exact blend is a closely guarded family secret; we can at least guess, my best guess is the vintages will differ, I suspect Churchill 2008 was more than 86% Pinot Noir, perhaps the 2009 a little lower and 2012 seems more Chardonnay dominant, PN 70% CH 30% and I wonder perhaps Chardonnay might even be a little higher. It is unlikely Meunier is in the blend, although it is a grape that has very pretty fruit, it tends to mature faster than PN and CH. Pinot Noir dominance allows Sir Winston Churchill to express greater body with a broad and impressive nose and a distinctive Pinot Noir character that is so familiar of the Cuvée.

2012 weather has been hallmarked by many as very challenging but has created some stunning Champagne. Relatively low yields, often at least 15% below average due to various weather conditions throughout the year and a very dry end to the season. Winter months brought some frosts and hail which damaged the early stages of bud burst. Following cool and rainy weather in early spring, unseasonal warm weather prevailed in late March, favouring an advanced budbreak. August and September were very warm and this helped rescue and give the grapes a stunning maturity. Climate conditions in 2012 are considered to have slightly suited Pinot Noir more than Chardonnay. Though many of the Blanc de Blancs are already disproving this generalisation!

Tasting Note Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2012
This afternoon Champagne Pol Roger launched the new vintage of Sir Winston Churchill 2012. No hesitation a solid 19/20. Like many 2012’s the aromatics are powerful and forward, there is a blend of tropical notes, particularly pineapple and a rich zesty lemon sherbet going to buttery pasty. This all suggests there is a reasonable slug of Chardonnay in the 2012 blend! The Pinot Noir element seems more recessive at this point. Grapefruit comes through on the palate and a creamy lemony pastry, bundles of fruit, underlying freshness on the palate and the lees and fruit have given a creamy soft texture. Zingy lemon, grapefruit and twist of raspberry hang on the finish. A stunning 2012, forward and very seductive.

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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 2012

The next most exceptional vintage since 2008. A truly difficult growing season saw severe frosts in the winter. March brought warmth but early budbreak made the vines vulnerable to spring frosts. Overall, the early growing season was wet, and mildew became a serious issue. However, conditions improved dramatically in the later summer months. An August heatwave resulted in a rapid accumulation of sugar, but fortunately the nights remained cool, which helped to preserve acidity. Although yields were low (averaging at 9,210 kg/ha) due to frost, hail and disease early in the season, the 2012 harvest was exemplary in its maturity, acidity and grape health. A rare high acid, high sugar September harvest with impeccable concentration of flavour and refreshing vibrancy. Pinot Noir is the superstar of the vintage, though Pinot Meunier excelled too. A vintage that promises great longevity for the finest cuvées, it was widely declared by producers. However, Krug decided to invest in its reserve wines on this great year, and no Vintage was produced. The quality of 2012 is universally high, with the greatest releases so far including Louis Roederer Cristal and Cristal Rosé, Bollinger La Grande Année and La Grande Année Rosé, as well as Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Tasting note

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Written Notes

“Medium-deep lemon-gold colour. Soft and overt nose of spicy, yeasty complexity meeting a lovely charred gunpowdery whiff. Crisp pristine fruitiness of ripe yellow apple, baked pear, candied lemon and vanilla, developing tropical nuances. The palate echoes the 2012 vintage’s hallmark vivacity, but is mellow, round and textured, as Winston ought to be. There is instant charm and drinkability to this well-built wine that finishes with a refreshing chalky-mineral bite. A fine Sir Winston vintage.”

Sir Winston Churchill was a close friend of the Pol Roger family, prompting the house to name their prestige cuvée after him. The great man himself, once commented: “My tastes are simple, I am easily satisfied with the best.”

  • 93p

A seamless Champagne, showing a texture of raw silk, this weaves vibrant acidity with an expressive range of glazed apple and poached white cherry fruit flavors, with pickled ginger and saffron spice details and rich notes of pastry cream, toast and coffee liqueur. More about finesse than power, this is long and creamy on the mineral-tinged finish

  • 96p

Pol Roger's newly released 2012 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is showing brilliantly, bursting from the glass with youthful aromas of honeyed pears, toasted brioche, pomelo, fresh pastry, green apple and mandarin orange, with hints of stone fruit emerging with time in the glass. Full-bodied, vinous and textural, with an enveloping core of fleshy, concentrated fruit, bright acids and an elegant pinpoint mousse, it concludes with a long, penetrating finish. More muscular and vibrant than the generous and charming 2009, the 2012 ranks alongside the 2008 and 2002 as one of the three finest renditions of Sir Winston Churchill this millennium—and in style it resembles a hypothetical blend of those two vintages.

Pol Roger releases the 2012 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill this week, so in the interests of timeliness, I'm publishing this tasting note in advance of a substantial Champagne report slated for later this month. In that report, readers can look forward to—inter alia—reviews of Pol Roger's other current releases. But in the meantime, this superb 2012 merits serious attention.

  • 96p

Light, green yellow colour. Fresh and intense nose shows fresh minerality, apples and peaches. Dry and crisp palate is concentrated and dense. Lovely layered falvours from brioche to apples and gentle toastiness. The finish is long and lingering with mineral notes. JL 95p (Oct 2021)

  • 95p

Pale lemon yellow. Apples, pears, fruit driven, nuanced nose, minerals and chalk, some brioche nose. Fresh acidity, apples, lemons, detailed, bright and nuanced, refined, superb texture, long finish. 95

  • 95p
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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

Highlights

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