2012 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill
|Grapes||Chardonnay, Pinot Noir|
Some zoom tastings are better than others - and the presentation live and direct from 'No.1, Rue Winston Churchill' in Epernay to introduce the 2012 Cuvée Winston Churchill - was superb. Not just because of the great charm and good humour of 6th generation family member Hubert de Billy and Laurent d'Harcourt - but because the wine is hugely impressive.
2012 was not an easy vintage - and nature really was cruel for much of the time. A warmish, damp winter moved in to a wet Spring which was dotted with some severe frosts and also some devastating hail storms. These grim conditions needed a long, warm summer to save things - and thankfully a perfect August came to the rescue.
So, production is down here but the remaining crop was high-quality and intense. The surviving fruit loaded with powerful flavour and complex aromatics. This translates to a wonderful release of Sir Winston Churchill. Beautifully broad-textured, measured power and fizzing with personality.
Intense and loaded with dried fruit notes, crunch of tart apple and a more savoury nuttiness too. Sparks fly and wafts of warm dough and ginger pop up - teasing you for what the future might hold. This is a really delicious rendition of such a special cuvée and it should last well, improving over time for the next 20 years and beyond. Drinking range: 2022 - 2040 L&S (Mar 2021)
*Case price discount: Mix any 12 bottles (or 9l equivalent) of wine or 6 bottles of Champagne, Spirits, Sweet Wine or Fortified to get the 'case price' for each bottle.
Thanks to a long-standing association that began with Winston Churchill’s first order in 1908, Pol Roger uses the Sir Winston name for its prestige cuvée, first created in 1975 and launched at Blenheim Palace in 1984. The aim was to make a traditional pinot noir-based, grand cru Champagne of the sort that Churchill lapped up, robust, full-bodied and relatively mature. The most recent iterations before the 2012 vintage were the seductively rich and toasty 2008 and almost as impressive 2009.
2012 was an excellent low-yielding vintage in Champagne, and in their wake, the 2012 Sir Winston, the 19th release, after seven and half years ageing on the lees and bottling with a dosage of 7 g/L, is golden-hued, with aromas of ripe apples and light nutty and toasty notes, first impressions confirmed by a delightful liquid ripe apple refreshment and buoyed by a youthful effervescence, holding the richly concentrated, exotic fruit together, and teetering between Cox’s apple richness and a savoury tang with no hint of tartness; a typically vinous example of Sir Winston capable of a long life of a decade or more. (Cork) Drinking range: 2021 - 2031 Rating: 96 Anthony Rose, The Evening Standard (Nov 2021)
Sleek, with racy acidity, this tightly-meshed version nonetheless offers a lovely range of flavors, with ripe black cherry and currant fruit and accents of pomegranate, candied kumquat and raw almond. Finely detailed, creamily swaths the palate in silk-like texture, carrying the expanding flavor profile through to a graphite- and spice-laced, lasting finish. Drink now through 2032. Drinking range: 2021 - 2032 Rating: 97 Alison Napjus, The Wine Spectator (Apr 2021)
Intense aromas of strawberry and subtle apple with pie crust and some ash and stone. An almost smoky undertone to the aromas. Full-bodied and very layered with ultra fine tannins that give it a rough-cut, velvety texture. It’s very flavorful, yet so checked and reserved at the same time. Compact, tight palate that is deep and powerful. Very vinous at the end and in the mouth feel. Spicy and biscuity at the finish. Mostly pinot noir with chardonnay and only grand cru. More density and complexity than the 2008. Seven years on the lees. Delicious and luxurious to drink now, but giving this some age will make it even better. Rating: 98 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com (Mar 2021)
Champagne Pol Roger
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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