Since its inception in 1975 the new release of Pol Roger’s prestige cuvée, Sir Winston Churchill, has always been a standout event in the wine world. Named after this famous house’s most recognised customer, so much so that even the street at which their headquarters are based has been renamed Rue Winston Churchill. It possibly helped that Christian de Billy, president and family member, was Mayor of Epernay at the time!
The 2002 is the 14th vintage of this great cuvee to be released. How appropriate that it should coincide with anniversary of the Normandy landings and what a fantastic celebration this great vintage is.
The official release was certainly a very special occasion. 30 members of the UK trade and press accompanied by Randolph Churchill, the great man’s great grandson were treated to an absolute celebration of Champagne.
As so often is the case the very best white Burgundy vintages follow through to be exceptional years in Champagne and it most certainly is the case for 2002. The year is generally characterised as a relatively warm year, of even climatic conditions, providing for wines with a strong level of richness and volume, but ably supported by the excellent levels of acidity that all great Champagne naturally retains.
Whilst the exact blend is a secret closely guarded by wine maker Dominique Petit, the wine focuses on Pinot Noir supported by a percentage of Chardonnay, but all the fruit is only sourced from Grand Cru vineyards. The wine is sensationally delicious, possessing a wonderful accessibility now but as my notes below will uphold most definitely has the ability to age for many, many years to come!
Brilliant golden yellow colour. Beautifully fine delicate mousse, it has lovely fresh sherbet lemon aroma’s, with hints of mango and buttered brioche. In the mouth this wine has great weight and volume, with a delicious level of richness. A wine of real structure and breadth, with full mouth coating flavours, a real beauty finishing with great freshness and vibrance. Following 11 years of aging on its lees this is a wine most definitely worthy of the great man’s name and has fabulous aging potential, a real stunner. Drink 2014 – 2028
In order to support the age worthiness of this fabulous cuvée we were initially treated to the beautifully pure and direct 1996, still so youthful and vibrant and the very refined and harmonious 1988.Then I can honestly say I was honoured to be included in one of the greatest tastings I will ever experience in my lifetime with a series of wines from the family’s private cellars and possibly their last bottles from the following three vintages 1921, 1914 and 1892!
All were quite amazing and sensational in their own right but undoubtedly the most staggering was the 1914 and whilst picking hairs this for me was the finest of the three and most certainly the most emotional. To think that the grapes were being picked by the women of Epernay as most of their husbands were taking part in the Battle of Marne at the beginning of September to end the German sweep into France and with yields of only 10hl per hectare this great wine is an absolute rarity and what an absolute treat.
A 5* vintage in Bordeaux and Sauternes, 1921 was a very hot year and this beautiful wine disgorged in the 1950s is a fabulous example. Brilliant golden orange in colour, the wine still retains a gentle petillance on the palate. Beautifully alive with mature nutty flavours with hints of truffles and subtle olorroso sherry. This is an absolute treat aged and distinguished.
Brilliant golden Sauternes caramelised orange colour. This has mature aromas of crushed buttered digestive biscuits. A wine with amazing depth and texture, it is full weighted and concentrated highlighting the excessively low yields for the year. It retains an incredible youthfulness balancing subtle flavours of peaches and fresh spring blossom with strong aged secondary fruit flavours. An absolute stunner with an amazingly dry nutty finish and a tickle of a spritz on the tongue.
From pre phyloxerra vines, this is unique in style . Golden brown in colour, it has almost a sweet wine aroma of figs and prunes. In the palate it has nutty, figgy pudding richness and is surprisingly sweet most definitely a reflection of the level of dosage and taste preferences at the time. From the year that Arthur Conan Doyle published the “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” todays tasting was an adventure that I for one will never forget.
My tasting notes and offer for the 2002 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill are just to whet the appetite before its release next week, when we will get allocations. If you are interested please get in touch with your salesman on 020 7793 7900.