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2008 Champagne Pol Roger, Rosé, Brut
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Pol Roger is perhaps best known as Winston Churchill's favourite Champagne. The house remains family-owned and has a reputation for producing champagnes of finesse and elegance which age very well. Pol Roger Brut Rèserve Non-Vintage, made from equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, is consistently one of the very best on the market, largely due to the high proportion of aged reserve wines in the blend.
Pol Roger vintage wines, made from at least 60% Pinot Noir and up to 40% Chardonnay, are soft and fruit-driven in youth but, after ten years or so, develop great complexity and finesse. The Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, launched in 1984 and made from a secret blend, is a Champagne of exquisite finesse and balance and one that rivals the very best of the region.
26% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay and it performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk slopes south of Epernay. It is relatively simple to grow, although it buds early and thus is susceptible to spring frosts. It produces lighter, fresher wines than those from Burgundy and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape in Blancs de Blancs, which are some of the richest long-lived Champagnes produced.
Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 40% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends - it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and particularly so in the southern Aube district.
The final component is Pinot Meunier and this constitutes nearly 35% of the plantings. Its durability and resistance to spring frosts make the Marne Valley, a notorious frost pocket, its natural home. It ripens well in poor years and produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks ageing potential, but this does not deter Krug from including around 15% of it in their final blends.
Rosé wines are produced by leaving the juice of red grapes to macerate on their skins for a brief time to extract pigments (natural colourings). However, Rosé Champagne is notable in that it is produced by the addition of a small percentage of red wine – usually Pinot Noir from the village of Bouzy – during blending.