The 2015 Brut Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill shows off the savoury side of the vintage to great effect. Hints of dried pear, sage, mint, dried flowers, lemon oil and chamomile open gradually in this mid-weight, lithe edition of Pol Roger’s tête de cuvée.
The 2015 unfolds nicely with time in the glass, but I wouldn’t think of opening a bottle anytime soon. Readers will find a nervy Winston Churchill marked by notable freshness and vigour more than size. This is a fine effort in a vintage that has proven far trickier than most observers envisioned. The dosage is 7 grams per litre. Disgorged September 2022.
Drink 2027 - 2045
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (May 2022)
Blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from grand cru vineyards.
Deep golden straw colour. A full-bodied, meaty nose with lots of impact. Lovely, filigree mousse – very well judged for its impact on the palate. Flavours reach every bit of the palate. Quite a charmer! Definitely already approachable – in fact, it tastes as though it would already have been pretty nice last year! A fine, succulent representative of this dry, ripe year. Pretty gorgeous, actually. Maybe it won’t be the longest-lasting Churchill, but it’s hugely satisfying now.
Drink 2023 - 2030
Jancis Robinson MW, jancisrobinson.com (March 2023)
A strong effort in a less-acclaimed vintage, Pol Roger’s newly released 2015 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill opens in the glass with aromas of confit citrus, ripe orchard fruits and dried white flowers mingled with hints of honeycomb, freshly baked bread and anise.
Medium to full-bodied, vinous and concentrated, with bright acids, chalky structuring extract and a pinpoint mousse, this inherently rather rich, gastronomic Champagne is quite tightly wound out of the gates and will reward a bit of bottle age. Stylistically, it is somewhat reminiscent of a modern-day version of the 1985.
Drink 2025 - 2045
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (March 2023)
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.