by Fred McMillin
for March 24, 1998

Churchill's Choice


Sir Winston Churchill was a devotee of Pol Roger champagne, even naming his racehorse "Odette Pol-Roger" after one of the descendants of the 1849 founder, Paul or Pol Roger. S. Sutcliffe in "Oxford Companion to Wine"

Pol Roger is a very conscientious family firm that produces exquisite, classic champagnes of a consistently high standard. Johnson and Duijker, "Wine Atlas of France"

The Rest of the Story

The bond between the U.K. And Pol Roger was established long before Winston Churchill's time. The vintage of 1874 was outstanding. A contemporary account said that thanks to the firm's good "relations with the leading vineyard proprietors, they were able to acquire large stocks of the exceptional vintage. Hence, they resolved to commence shipping Champagne to England, where their agents successfully introduced the new brand."

Today, the firm is run by two of Pol Roger's great-grandsons. They have chosen quality over expansion, but they are not tiny...with four miles of deep chalk tunnels, where the bottle you buy will have spent at least three years. Even in 1882, author Henry Vizetelly noted that the lower of the two levels "is reached by a flight of no less than l7O steps."

So, if you care enough to sip the very best, try a Pol Roger.

The Wine

Pol Roger Brut
Epernay, France
Importer—Frederick Wildman, NYC
Contact—Odila Galer-Noel, (212) 355-0700
Names—The Brut is distinguished by a white foil wrapper on the top four inches of the bottle. Hence, it is often called "White Foil," rather than Brut.
Price—$34 range.


One of the most impressive experiences I've had is walking the chalky tunnels in Epernay and Reims. At Pol Roger, the tunnels are a steady 50 degrees and hold a mere 7.5 MILLION bottles.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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