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Pol Roger
Winston Churchill famously said in 1918: "Remember, gentlemen, it's not just France we are fighting for, it's champagne." Not just any champers either - Sir Winston had a penchant for Blanc de Blancs, and in particular Pol Roger (he exclusively drank the 1934 vintage until his death in 1965). So much so that the Maison Roger created Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill in 1975, in homage to the British Prime Minister. Created for its “robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity” we like to think they are referring to the qualities Sir Winston looked for in Champagne, rather than the man himself.
Best of British
Known as the “British Champagne” because the Brits preferred Brut, Pol Roger has always had an excellent reputation in the UK. Appointed to His Majesty the King in 1911, as such, Pol Roger provided the Champagne for the coronation of George V. Still phenomenally popular in the UK (although Brexit uncertainty threatens this), it remains one of the smaller houses of Champagne, producing “just” 1.8m bottles a year - less than 1% of the total of 300 million for the entire Champagne region. However, Pol Roger was never about quantity. Much rather, they always wanted to excel and only produce champagne of top-notch quality. “We remain a completely family-owned Champagne house,’ said Hubert de Billy, the great-great-grandson of house founder Pol Roger. “We are always working for our children. Our decisions are based on the long-term view.”
A new direction for a new millennium
As tastes for the luxury consumer market grows, notably in China and the Far East, sales of Pol Roger have risen substantially in the United States. The firm adopted a more aggressive sales strategy in 2000, with new importers representing the brand in Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Australia. At the same time, significant changes were made in the winery, which underwent complete renovation, in a constant quest for better quality. As a consequence, quality (and prices) has risen considerably.
Notable facts and vintages
  • 2009 Pol Roger Blanc des Blancs was regarded as one of the top Blancs des Blancs in this “outstanding vintage” according to Tom Hyland for Forbes in October 2018, who also suggests this cuvée is often overlooked.
  • In February 1900, Pol Roger’s cellar on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay caved in but not all was lost, at least not as revealed in 2018 when 26 bottles (in tact and quite possibly drinkable) believed to be from the 1898 vintage were uncovered. In March 2019 the house announced its intention to use robot technology to safely uncover more of the one million+ bottles (and five casks) known to have disappeared some 120 years ago in the unfortunate collapse.
  • Based on the votes of the world’s top wine experts, Pol Roger tops them all in Drinks International’s “Most Admired Champagne Brand 2019”, Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Brut is by far the house’s most popular according to wine-searcher; the 2006 vintage is of particular note with prices spiking up +39% in one year alone (October 2017 to 2018).