Pol Roger Reserve Brut
The definitive in-house Pol Roger, the non-vintage Pol Roger Reserve Brut has been a flag-bearer for the Pol Roger family since that flag was first flown. This is classic Pol Roger champagne, equal parts Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, providing body, lightness and freshness in spades. The nose of Pol Roger gives a hint of white flowers that juxtaposes deliciously with the initial nuttiness on the palate, giving way to suggestions of honey and stone fruits as time goes by. The Pol Roger Reserve Brut is good to go from purchase, but those willing to let it sit for a while will reap the rewards. As far as champagnes under €50 go, it doesn’t get much better than the Pol Roger Reserve Brut Non-Vintage.
The Pol Roger Reserve Brut is produced each year at the Pol Roger champagne house, where the ability to reproduce the consistent style and quality in their wine cellars. The Pol Roger Reserve Brut is a terrific blend of equal parts of the three champenois grape varieties: pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay from 30 different crus. The Pol Roger Reserve Brut is in fact their first produced Pol Roger champagne. Pol Roger Reserve Brut champagne enchants you with a beautiful display of golden straw and an abundance of the finest bubbles. Pol Roger Reserve Brut Non-Vintage champagne’s price is around 50 € or less.
Dominant Grape - Chardonnay
The current release of Pol Roger Reserve Brut Non-Vintage is comprised of equal parts chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier and was finished with a dosage of eight grams per liter. The wine ages for a minimum of three years sur latte. Pol Roger Reserve Brut delivers a fine bouquet of white peach, apple, distinctive meunier floral tones, brioche, a fine base of soil and a whisper of smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and racy, with a fine core of fruit, refined mousse, lovey bounce and grip and a long, well-balanced and still fairly youthful finish. I have had very good experiences aging the Pol Roger Reserve Brut in my cellar (and currently have close to the case of the release from 2014 resting comfortably) and feel the current release could be another fine wine for mid-term aging, despite the Pol Roger Reserve Brut being quite tasty to drink today.
The NV Pol Roger Reserve Brut, based on the 2012 vintage and disgorged after four years on the lees in July 2017, is very clear, precise and fresh on the nose, with bright fruit and delicate brioche notes. Blending equal parts of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from 30 different crus and with 25% reserve wines, this is a clear, fresh, tight and finessed Champagne with an intense, powerful but also filigreed finish. This is an impressive, taut and persistent "White Foli" for many opportunities.
There is plenty of citrus character present on the green apple, floral and discreet spice wisps. There is good verve to the delicious and relatively rich medium weight flavors that are shaped by a moderately firm if not especially refined mousse, all wrapped in a clean, dry and notably complex finish that is definitely drier than the stated level of dosage would suggest.
THE STORY OF POL ROGER CHAMPAGNE
Sir Winston Churchill will be far from your mind as you settle into the magenta skies of early morning Épernay. France’s famous champagne port is a bustling maze of narrow streets and vintage exuberance, but it is in the verdant vineyards that the commune comes alive. It was in these dignified surroundings that Pol Roger was born, both the man and the champagne. The eponymous Pol Roger creator of the beloved beverage was just 18 years old when he made his first sale of wine to a merchant in nearby Aÿ, a transaction that took place in 1849. Pol Roger’s initial hope of following his father into the business of law was curtailed by a serious illness that enveloped his father, leaving the young man with the prospect of having to establish a business of his own. Wine was the answer.
That first sale for Pol Roger came in 1849, but by 1853 things were moving in earnest. From the very beginning, Pol Roger tried to tailor his creations to the English market, focusing on drier champagnes and showcasing a shrew business mind in the process. Pol passed away from pneumonia in 1899, but his two sons were ready to take Pol Roger Champagne to the next level.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. Less than a year into their tenure the Pol Roger cellars collapsed, destroying more than half a million Pol Roger bottles in the process. Such a tragedy would destroy a less determined outfit but the Pol Roger family was not to be stopped, and a mixture of courage and community love helped the legacy of Pol Roger to continue. ‘Pol Roger’ became the official name of the champagne in 1900 when the Pol Roger boys legally changed their surname to ‘Pol-Roger’, and both found themselves sewn into the intricate fabric of Épernay society.
The 20th century was one of the most tumultuous in human history, but it was going to take more than the various events of the globe to stop the momentum of Pol-Roger. International celebrity was forthcoming, a growing reputation that managed to survive prohibition, the Russian Revolution, two World Wars and all the rest, as the creation of an 18-year-old prodigy became a name synonymous with everything that is great about Pol Roger champagne; the pomp and circumstance, the elegance, the luxury and above all the taste.
These traditions continue well into the 21st century. Pol Roger Champagne has largely managed to hold back from throwing itself into the world of tourism, focusing instead on producing quality champagnes that do all the talking. As such, a visit to what Churchill deemed the ‘most drinkable address in the world’ is only possible for those on the inside, unless you happen to be an iconic 20th century British Prime Minister. Churchill himself never made the journey to Épernay, although he did more than most to make this famous Pol Roger drink an even more famous institution.
Humanity’s relationship with champagne is a curious one, a love affair built on the perception of glitz and glamour that often belies the inherent down to earth (literally) nature of its production. Churchill famously called it the ‘wine of civilisation and the oil of government’. When it came to Pol Roger, he knew better than most.