Three Vintages of Pol Roger

Gary Westby and Pierre-Samuel Reyne, export director of Champagne Pol Roger

Gary Westby and Pierre-Samuel Reyne, export director of Champagne Pol Roger

It is a rare thing for us to have three vintages of the same great Champagne in stock. I am proud to say that we have a little vertical available now of the exceptional Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne and they are all special in their own way. The export director of Champagne Pol Roger, Mr. Pierre-Samuel Reyne came and visited me in Redwood City recently and shared a wealth of information on the wines, and last Friday we did an in-store tasting with Pol Roger that broke the record for Champagne Fridays with 77 tasters. To complete our month of Pol Roger, I drank a bottle of the 2012 with sushi, and I have to say that I am convinced that this vertical is perhaps the most interesting triumvirate of Champagne in the store.

Pierre-Samuel explained that the Blanc de Blancs from Pol Roger is sourced entirely from the Grand Cru’s of the Cotes des Blancs; Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, Mesnil, Oger, and Oiry. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and no oak whatsoever is used in the process. All three of the wines have a perfect tiny bead, which can be attributed to the cellars at Pol Roger, which are the deepest and coldest in the region. They still hand riddle everything at Pol Roger and don’t even own a gyropalette.

The 2008 Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne comes from a vintage that needs little introduction. I am far from alone in calling it the best in a generation, critics and collectors alike cannot heap enough praise on this magical harvest. The weather was very similar to 1996, with a cold east wind keeping the acidity high in the grapes while plenty of good sunshine ripened them fully. This wine has both the pure, aromatic white fruit of the best Chardonnay in Champagne and the killer focus, belemnita chalk and laser-like acidity that the vintage is famous for. For me, this is the one to age the longest in the cellar, and a perfect candidate to lay down for children born in this year.

Open, friendly and full of brioche toast, the 2009 Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne is the best of the three for current consumption. It wowed everyone at our tasting last Friday with its creamy texture, round, friendly personality, and dry finish. This vintage is a favorite with the growers in Champagne because of how sunny and easy the harvest was for them, and how clean and open-knit the wines turned out to be. This should keep very well, but perhaps not for multiple generations like the 2008.

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Concentrated, toasty and virile, the 2012 Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne seems to be between the styles of the 2008 and the 2009. It reminds me quite a bit of the 2002 with its more powerful personality, and the pain grille bouquet is bound to thrill Champagne fans that like this style. It comes from a harvest that was a real miracle; after a miserable spring and early summer, a golden autumn saved the crop. Yields were quite low because of problems at flowering, but almost everyone in the region made a bit of vintage because of the great quality. It is still the only harvest that I have ever heard the growers excited about- they really thought it was all bound for the distillery in July, and when nature gave them a miracle, they celebrated it. We had this wine with sushi, and it worked very well, but I wrote in my notes that it would be even better with white fish with sauce- or just as the aperitif.

If you are looking to put together a tasting, or have an occasion with Champagne loving friends, tasting these three side by side is a special treat. Having them on consecutive Fridays could also be a lot of fun!

A toast to you!

-Gary Westby



Gary Westby