The 2002 Brut Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is wonderfully open, expressive and resonant. The richness of the vintage comes through nicely, yet the more overt elements are very nicely balanced by a good deal of freshness. Baked apple, pastry, candied lemon, dried flowers, and warm, toasty notes shape the generous, resonant finish. With time in the glass, the 2002 takes on a striking, vinous character. Readers might want to consider opening the 2002 a few hours before, as it really blossoms with air.
Drink 2016 - 2032
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (November 2015)
Light yellow-gold. Deeply pitched aromas of poached pear, fresh fig, orange custard and honey, with smoky mineral and buttered toast nuances adding complexity. Stains the palate with ripe citrus and orchard fruit flavours that are given spine and focus by juicy acidity. Closes taut, sappy and extremely long, with an echo of toastiness and wonderful clarity. All Grand Cru fruit.
Josh Raynolds, Vinous.com (December 2014)
The 2002 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill is the stunning 2008's closest challenger in the decade, bursting with aromas of confit citrus, stone fruits, mandarin, sweet dried fruits, smoke and iodine. Full-bodied, layered and vinous, it's deep and multidimensional, with broad shoulders, terrific concentration and a long, resonant finish. In style, this shares all of 2012's breadth and flesh but brings more structure and tension to the equation. Still youthful today, the 2002 will drink well from a cold cellar for the next two decades.
One of Champagne's finest houses, Pol Roger, produces among the most consistent Grandes Marques ranges. The style is full-bodied and elegantly fleshy, dominated by Pinot Noir. Only some 20% of any given year will be vintaged, as the Maison privileges its NV Brut Réserve—and indeed, while many non-vintage Bruts fluctuate in quality, Pol Roger's "white foil" bottling is both remarkably reliable and long-lived—which ranks as one of the region's best values. Today, the house ferments all its base wines in stainless steel at low temperature, followed by manual riddling.
Drink 2020 - 2040
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (March 2023)
For Hubert de Billy, this is the best vintage of the 21st Century.
After tasting six younger vintages in magnum, this 75-cl bottle leaps forward in maturity – both in colour and in fruit character. There's a slight bruising to the apple fruit, but only in the most charming and succulent way – that sweet smell of decay, like leaf litter and undergrowth. It is still going absolutely strong, but it is certainly entering the mature development phase with more tertiary than primary flavours.
Drink 2012 - 2042
Richard Hemming MW, JancisRobinson.com (November 2022)
Fabulous aromas of dried apple, cream, mango and ginger follow through to a full, dense palate, but it's very, very fine. The bead is so, so fine. The texture is like silk—truly superb quality. I love the contrast between richness and freshness. It builds slowly on the palate and finishes so long and rich. This was ten years on the lees. Mostly pinot noir. It's so superlative to drink. This follows 2000, 1999, 1996 and 1995.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (March 2015)
More about structural fascination than aromatic pleasure. With its high acidity and simultaneously rich and impressive depth, this is reminiscent of the heroic 1996, and is equipped to develop far into the future.
Drink 2020 - 2040
Richard Juhlin, Decanter.com
About this WINE
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.
Brut denotes a dry style of Champagne (less than 15 grams per litre). Most Champagne is non-vintage, produced from a blend from different years. The non-vintage blend is always based predominately on wines made from the current harvest, enriched with aged wines (their proportion and age varies by brand) from earlier harvests, which impart an additional level of complexity to the end wine. Champagnes from a single vintage are labelled with the year reference and with the description Millésimé.
Non-vintage Champagnes can improve with short-term ageing (typically two to three years), while vintages can develop over much longer periods (five to 30 years). The most exquisite and often top-priced expression of a house’s style is referred to as Prestige Cuvée. Famous examples include Louis Roederer's Cristal, Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon, and Pol Roger's Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.
Which grapes are included in the blend, and their proportion, is one of the key factors determining the style of most Champagnes. Three grapes are used - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.
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.