The dinner that justifies my presence in London is held in the Intercontinental Park Lane at Theo Randall Restaurant. A crazy collector of champagne, Peter, has collected all the years that have been made of Pol Roger’s Cuvée Winston Churchill, and present them tonight in magnum or for 1988 in Jeroboam.
We are 18 around a table with fifteen glasses in front of us, for the « serious » part, that of the tasting. There will then be a dinner where we can continue to taste the wines during the meal.
We are greeted by a non-vintage Champagne Pol Roger magnum which is very nice and expressive.
Peter is proud to be able to realize this event of which James, the director of Pol Roger U.K. tells us that such a vertical has never been organized. It recalls the history of this cuvée. The figures he quotes about champagne consumption by Winston Churchill are quite staggering, the first order of champagne from this great man to Pol Roger dating back to 1908. What he consumed Pol Roger is in tens of thousands of bottles.
The champagnes will be served in sets of three, in order of years, from the youngest champagne to the oldest. The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill is made of about 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. He spent about ten years on the lees.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 2004 has a rather discreet nose. It evokes hazelnuts. He is very fluid and has a very strong personality.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 2002 has a superb nose. It is a little less lively than the 2004. It has a lot of grace.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 2000 is unfortunately corked. I prefer the 2004 at this stage of his life, but the 2002 will grow. My ranking is 2004/2002/2000.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1999 has a superb nose, the most beautiful of the following three. He has a very strong personality, with hazelnuts in a superb finish. It is a champagne of pleasure.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1998 is lighter and more fluid, less assertive than the 1999 that I prefer. But it is noble and beautiful and is best when it asserts itself in glass
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1996 has a fragrance so strong that it explodes aromas. It does not have the presence that one would expect from a 1996. This is due to the bottle that is not perfect. Although the 1999 is definitely a champagne of pleasure, I rank 1998/1999/1996.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1995 has a superb and noble nose. It has a very nice attack with croissant and suggested milk bread, but it lacks a tiny bit of vivacity.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1993 has a delicate nose and a floral mouth that evokes me the lily of the valley. It is so romantic that it is a divine surprise.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1990 is good and plays on its vinosity and its strength but it is perhaps a little too « good soldier ». This series contains three wines of very high quality and strong personality. I rank 1993/1995/1990 which would not be obvious according to the fame of the vintages. This series impressed me.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 1988 Jeroboam has a fantastic nose amplified by the format. This wine is absolute perfection. It is monumental, evoking honey. I am so impressed that I shut myself in my bubble to enjoy it. I tell Peter that this wine alone justifies my trip to London because we are faced with an unusual emotion. Tonight, I touched perfection.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1986 is very difficult to pass after the 1988. Its nose is weak.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1985 is beautiful but the remanence of 1988 keeps me from loving it as it should be. The classification of this series is 1988/1985/1986.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1982 has a very amber color. The nose is that of an ancient wine. The wine is nice, and interesting, but it is much older than what should be 1982.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1979 has a slightly amber color. The wine is corked. The finish is unpleasant. It is impossible to drink it.
The Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill magnum 1975 is a champagne that is not perfect but I find it madly interesting. He evokes for me all that the Winston Churchill can give when he is old. It is not very long but inspiring. The series is classified as follows: 1975/1982/1979.
The strong personality of this champagne is impressive, and this tasting exceeds in quality last night with the Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Françaises and the Salon. The 1988 in Jeroboam is so exceptional that it illuminated the tasting. Then there is the 1993 superbly romantic and the 2004, very assertive. Let us add the 1975 that prefigures the ancient champagnes. The Cuvée Winston Churchill is undoubtedly a great champagne very typical.
There are so many champagnes that we continue to drink between participants while our table is prepared for dinner.
The menu is Italian-inspired: panfried Scottish scallops with Cima di rape / ravioli of roasted delica squash, ricotta and marjoram with butter and sage / roasted rack of Somerset lamb with Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, baby leeks, fennel, turnips with salsa d ‘Ebe and jus / cheese served with mostarda and homemade crackers / Sicilian chocolate and orange cake with roasted almond ice cream.
I obviously come back to the Winston Churchill Jeroboam 1988 and around 1993 which have major gastronomic virtues. But Peter added to the program a very pleasant Beaune Clos des Mouches red Joseph Drouhin 2011 on the excellent cuisine of the restaurant, then the Champagne Pol Roger 2008 and the Champagne Pol Roger rosé 2008, but I no longer minded the analyze.
There were a few problem bottles, but that’s a small thing when you can retain the perfection of a few wines that made this evening a memorable one.
The 1988 will be very high in my champagne Pantheon.
(pictures of this tasting can be seen in the article in French on this subject)