4. POL ROGER
Over the past decade when champagne in general has gone through a tricky period in terms of its wider image, Pol Roger has undergone a makeover which has helped establish it among the first rank brands. So it’s good to see the Drinks International voting Academy reflecting the wider viewpoint in the trade with Pol achieving a top-five finish for the second year in succession.
I hadn’t been back to Pol Roger for several years, so a visit last December was a chance to catch up, in person, with all the changes that have been made over the past few. The first thing to note on arrival is that Pol now has a fittingly grand entrance to what Winston Churchill considered the best drinking address in Champagne. But impressive as this is, it’s really in the winery where the most significant investment has been made, with row after row of shiny new stainless steel tanks of all sizes, lined up in a spotlessly clean environment.
Now, as is the modern way in Champagne, any small parcel of juice from a particular cru, even a specific plot, can be kept separately. For head winemaker Dominique Petit, poached from Krug in the late ’90s, this enables a large degree of fine tuning for all the cuvées in the Pol Roger range. That has made possible the launching of a zero-dosage style and reducing the dosage in the house’s flagship Brut Réserve NV from 12gm/l to 9gm/l, so there’s now a bit of extra zip there, as well as the mid-palate richness extra lees and post-disgorgement ageing brings.
Vintage releases, always a strength at Pol Roger, have benefitted too. at a recent tasting in London of 2002 prestige cuvées, a magnum of regular Pol Roger 2002, slipped in among some of the most expensive Champagnes in the market, outperformed many, selling at well over twice its price.