With 160 years of wine production, Pol Roger has seen many ups and downs during its history, yet has survived and thrived to become one of a small circle of leading Champagne brands.
In preparation for our Pol Roger champagne tasting session, we will be discussing the grand history of this famous champagne and its journey through to the current era.
A Short History
The estate began in 1849 when Pierre Roger started to produce Champagne.
However, it was not until three generations later that the Roger family started to make a name for themselves in the Champagne industry.
The first disaster to affect the estate happened on 23rd February, 1900 when 500 casks and one and a half million bottles were lost, crushed by the collapse of part of the cellars and surrounding buildings. It was down to Pol Roger’s sons, Maurice and Georges, to pick up the pieces and rebuild the company.
The War & Prohibition
In the years running up to the First World War, Maurice and Georges successfully increased exports and became the Champagne of choice for both royalty and top restaurants and an award winning wine.
Surviving the war, the next challenge they faced was prohibition in the US which forced them to expand into many more countries until the Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s caused sales to slow.
Adversity continued during the occupation of France by the Germans, when the production and the buying of Champagne were controlled by the Wehrmacht.
A Winston Churchill favourite
In the post-war period, Winston Churchill gave this Champagne his seal of approval declaring Pol Roger: “the most delightful address in the world”. His patronage certainly helped to raise the profile of the estate. From the middle of the 1950s the range of wines was increased with a vintage Rose being launched in 1961, followed a few years later by Cuvee Blancs de Blancs.
To acknowledge the relationship between the estate and the British prime minister, Cuvee Winston Churchill was launched in 1975 at Blenheim Palace in magnums only.
A New Century
The first decade of the 21st century saw the launch of two new cuvees, “Rich”, a demi-sec in 2001 and “Pure”, an Extra Brut, in 2007. During this time the winery was completely renovated under the watchful eye of Dominique Petit in order to improve consistency and quality.
The improvements in the production process and new relationships with importers in many countries, ensured the continued success of the estate.
Today Pol Roger cultivates 220 acres of vineyards to produce half the grapes used for its annual production of about 1.8 million bottles; the remainder being supplied by neighbouring growers.
World's leading wine families
Thanks to the rebuilding of the Champagne brand, Pol Roger is now a member of the Primum Familiae Vini (PFV), an international association of some of the world’s leading wine families from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
This esteemed association aims to uphold and defend the traditions and values of family-owned wine companies to ensure their survival.
The Distinctive White Foil of Reserve Brut
The Pol Roger we will be tasting in May is the Cuvee Brut Reserve which is a blend of three grape varieties from 30 crus – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier (from the Vallée de la Marne) and Chardonnay in equal parts. Each grape variety adds to the distinctive characteristic of this golden-coloured champagne with its fine bubbles.
The white foil on the bottle of Pol Roger Brut Reserve is a sign of quality and distinction.
A fruity, glazed honey taste
With a powerful and attractive nose, this sparkling wine is light and refreshing delivering fruity citrus flavours and a subtle honeyed finish and releases light flavours of vanilla brioche. In production, cellars extend around 7 kilometres beneath the streets of Epernay in France where the wine is aged for a minimum of 4 and a half years, resulting in a fine, elegant mousse.
The Pol Roger Cuvee Brut Reserve champagne suits all kinds of celebrations and meals including seafood dishes. It is also recommended as an aperitif drink, served before meals. Enjoy an evening in the presence of vintage champagne: abundant and fine bubbles to match.