This morning we are delighted to release the 2012 vintage of Pol Roger’s Sir Winston Churchill, the newest release of their exceptional Prestige Cuvee. Of the cuvee, William Kelley of The Wine Advocate has previously stated, “One of Champagne’s finest houses, Pol Roger produces among the most consistent ranges of all the Grandes Marques. The style is full-bodied and elegantly fleshy, dominated by Pinot Noir” and while he has yet to release his official thoughts on the 2012 vintage, he has indicated, “The 2012 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, which releases in just a few days, is reminiscent of a hypothetical blend of the 2008 and 2002, with the cut of 2008 and the richness of 2002. My review of this gastronomic, dramatic champagne will be out very soon.”
 
While the 2012 vintage began with a cool and rainy winter, by March the weather had become unseasonably warm, which left the buds exposed to several spells of frost as well a smattering of hailstorms. Thankfully by July, the grapes were able to reach ideal maturity thanks to the hot and dry summer months, allowing for a harvest of excellent quality despite low yields. The price today on release is £785 per case of six in bond, and considering that even in the best of years, the production of Pol Roger’s Sir Winston Churchill is paltry, we do expect the demand to far outstrip the reduced volumes produced in 2012, especially considering the increasing rarity of mature vintages currently available on the global market place.
 

VintageWARJVinousPrice
2012n/an/an/a£785
200995+8894£680
2008979095+£900
20069587n/a£700
200495+9394£700
2002969395£1,050
2000949294£1,045
1999949394£1,025
1998949494£1,080
1996n/a9795£1,875

Pol Roger produce less than 25,000 cases of all their vintage wines, including Pol Roger vintage, Chardonnay vintage, Rose vintage and Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill. While there is no official production level published for Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill, it is rumoured at less than 4,000 cases for the entire globe.

Pol Roger started producing champagne in 1849. Based in the town of Epernay it continues to this day to be run by his descendants. The Estate, relative to the other major houses, has a low production, producing only 110,000 cases across their entire range, including their leading non-vintage Champagne. Pol Roger has strong ties to the UK market; it was the favourite Champagne of Winston Churchill and currently holds a Royal Warrant as purveyors of Champagne to Queen Elizabeth II. The relationship between Pol Roger and Sir Winston Churchill dates back to a luncheon given by the British Ambassador to France, following the liberation of Paris, where the legendary 1928 Pol Roger was served. In attendance was Odette Pol Roger and the Prime Minister, who became lifelong friends, a friendship between Pol Roger and the Churchill family that exists to this day. Churchill even named one of his racehorses ‘Pol-Roger’ which won at Kempton Park in 1953, the Coronation Year.
 
In 1965, after Churchill’s death, Odette Pol Roger inserted a black border around all labels of Brut NV shipped to the UK. In 1984 they released the first vintage of Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill, the 1975 vintage, which was only released in Magnum. It is composed only from grapes sourced from Grand Cru vineyards, which were under vine in Churchill’s lifetime. The exact blend is a closely guarded secret, although Pinot Noir predominates, providing structure and breadth whilst Chardonnay contributes elegance. It is only made in the best vintages and is released later than the other Cuvee Champagnes to mark Churchill’s appreciation for older Champagne; his favourite vintages were 1928, 1934, and 1947. Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill has replaced Pol Roger P.R. Reserve Speciale at the apex of their range and since 1988 the Reserve Speciale has not been made; Pol Roger see no need to create two competing Prestige Cuvees.
 
In contrast to the house styles of both Krug and Roederer, no oak is used at Pol Roger, which is instead characterised for its full-bodied richness and finesse. They are also known for their accessibility in their youth which can be accredited in part to the two separate settlings of the must (débourbage), one at the press house immediately after pressing and a second “à froid” at just 6 degrees Celsius at the winery. This is followed by a slow and cool alcoholic fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats with each variety and fruit of each village kept separate to undergo a full malolactic fermentation before the final blending. The secondary fermentation and maturing takes place in the cool atmosphere of the Epernay based Pol Roger cellars, located 33 metres below street level and have a temperature of 9.5 degrees Celsius (49 degrees Fahrenheit), said to be 0.5 to 1.5 degrees colder than most other Champagne cellars. From within these cellars, each bottle undergoes a traditional remuage or riddling by hand before disgorging and dosage.