|Grapes||Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir|
This is intense and has great impact – but is not overblown at all. A lovely lick of sparky acidity keeps the elegance and delicacy in place. There is a super balance here between the honeyed brioche notes of baking dough and the brighter zippier citrus and floral overtones. This is immediately a joy to drink – but tucked away for 4-5 years and this will repay the patient.
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Champagne’s geographical location engenders capricious weather. For this reason, since their foundation in 1849 Pol Roger have observed the tradition of not releasing a vintage-dated champagne unless the climatic conditions permit the production of grapes of outstanding ripeness. A vintage champagne must, above all else, be a balanced champagne. This balance depends on the right blend of healthy grapes, a good potential alcohol and correct acidity. The first criterion for declaring a vintage wine is its capacity to age. Devotees who have the patience to age their champagnes are rewarded with a more complex and richer wine.
THE STORY OF THE VINTAGE
The first days of 2004 began under the snow and in the cold, but an unusual mildness set in from 5th January. Apart from a few short sharp periods of cold in February and March, this mild and dry weather continued until the spring. Full flowering started on 14th June for the Chardonnay and on 18th June for the Pinot Noir. A wet and cool August retarded the maturation of the grapes but the warmth and sunshine during the first three weeks of September encouraged an exceptional development of the bunches and the grapes were very healthy at the time of the harvest. The earliest parcels were picked on the 18th September with the latest on the 2nd October in excellent sunny conditions. A record crop with healthy ripe grapes picked at a potential average degree of 9.6% and total acidity: 7.1 H2SO4g/l.
VINIFICATION AND MATURATION
The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing and the second, a débourbage à froid, in stainless steel tanks at 6°C over a 24 hour period. A slow cool fermentation with the temperature kept under 18°C takes place in stainless steel, with each variety and each village kept separate until final blending. The wine undergoes a full malolactic fermentation. Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9°C in the deepest 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.
You might want to go for the exceptional 2002 vintage, but as this 2004 will eventually replace it completely we thought we should let you know that you don't need to worry. Although 2004 doesn't have the same reputation as a vintage, Pol Roger has produced a complex, rich, creamy, elegantly toasty Champagne with wonderful lifted fruit and polished acidity that will keep it going for a decade or more.
60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. Eight years' ageing on lees before disgorgement. Dosage 9 g/l.
Pale gold, fine bead. Rich biscuity nose and finely ripe citrus. Even a hint of gingerbread. Rich and deep and full in the mouth and with delicious cutting-through crispness. Very persistent. Great balance in quite a blockbuster style. Effervescent in every way. Deep and crisp and even. Drink: 2014-2022
18/20 Julia Harding MW, JancisRobinson.com
Champagne Pol Roger: Full Wine List and Profile
Champagne Pol Roger is one of the very few remaining houses still owned and run by the founding family, who remain responsible for the winemaking and selection of the cuvées each year. Originally founded in Aÿ in 1849 by Pol Roger, the firm then moved to Épernay in 1851. The First World War had a huge impact on the firm, putting any expansion plans to rest, and Prohibition in America made exports much more difficult. During the Second World War when the Germans occupied France, all production and buying of Champagne was controlled by the Wehrmacht. However, the War caused Winston Churchill to become a prominent figurehead throughout the world, and his love of Pol Roger was widely known. So much so that the House created their special Cuvée Winston Churchill in 1975.
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