Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1999
A myriad of fine bubbles
Grapes varieties: blend of Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Pinot Noir predominates, providing structure, breadth and robustness whilst Chardonnay contributes elegance, finesse and subtlety.
The relationship between Champagne Pol Roger and Sir Winston Churchill dates back to 1906 as attested by the first invoice issued in Sir Winston Churchill's name. It was reinforced during a providential meeting at a luncheon given by the British Ambassador to France in 1945, some months after the liberation of Paris, at which the sumptuous 1928 vintage of Pol Roger was served.
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.
Excellence means the rigorous selection of the vinegrowers POL ROGER works with and also a strict selection of the grapes bought from them.
Vinification and ageing:
Champagne Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée as a 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".
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 must undergoes two "débourbages" (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing and the second, a "débourbage à froid", takes place in stainless steel tanks at 6°C over a 24 hour period. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks kept to temperatures not exceeding 18°C, with each variety and each village picking kept separate until final blending. The wine undergoes a full malolactic fermentation. Secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle at 9°C in the lowest of the 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.
Intense, yellow gold, sparkling with a myriad of fine bubbles - the Pol Roger trade-mark. The nose is structured, forceful but with subtle mineral notes and hints of lemon, white pepper and ginger. Four-square on the palate, mouth filling, robust and powerful. Touches of minerality, even saltiness, with balance, structure and finesse. A long, lingering finish.
1999 was characterised by temperatures on average 1.8°C above the norm and by heavier than normal rains throughout the growing cycle. Generally the season from May until the harvest passed without notable incident.
Taking the region as a whole, the harvest began on 15th September and_finished on 1st October. The rains that fell during the vendange, which were more than double the average, did not prevent the harvest from breaking records. The results were nonetheless exceptional, combining very healthy grapes from an abundant crop with good maturity and an average alcohol level of 9.9%.
Dominique Petit, cellar master for Champagne Pol Roger, working alongside Patrice Noyelle and members of the family, made a rigorous selection of vins clairs which, even at an early stage, showed all the hallmarks of a "Churchill” vintage with a near perfect balance of maturity and acidity.
Pinot Noir excelled in 1999 and therefore provides the backbone and structure for this potentially long lived wine. This is the first "Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” made by the current wine-making team in this the 150th year of Champagne Pol Roger and is a wine worthy both of the Pol Roger heritage and its most famous fan.
A wine full of character to enjoy for itself - or pair it with hard cheeses such as Comté or Parmesan.