Most Enjoyable Wines Of 2013 – Pol Roger Brut Vintage 2002 Champagne

With grower Champagnes all the rage in recent years, a lot of the grande marques have become quite unhip in the minds of the wine cognoscenti. Thankfully, seeing as I think its standard white label Brut NV is fantastic value, Pol Roger seems to have escaped such censure.

Pol Roger

2002 was a very fine vintage in Champagne. In his book “The Finest Wines of Champagne, A guide to the Best Cuvées, Houses and Growers”, Michael Edwards awards the vintage five stars, and hails the maturity and quality of the fruit. Edwards reserves special praise for the quality of the Pinot Noirs in particular, which he describes as “powerful but perfectly balanced”, but also notes that the Chardonnays are “rich and exotically scented, the best checked by an incisive minerality”.

I’ve often marvelled at pictures of glutenous wine dinners on twitter, bottles lined up on the kitchen table as if they were pawns in a Winston Churchill war game. Why can’t these people just enjoy one, two or even three bottles of wine over the course of an evening, I wonder? Curious as to what all the fuss was about, on a late summer’s evening I relented, invited some friends for dinner and raided the Eurocave. Following an appropriate west-east geographic route, we opened the bottle of Pol Roger 2002 after we’d left Jerez and before we hit Tuscany. And boy did we hit Tuscany! God only knows what we ate with it – one of the downsides of these bibendous dinners is that some of the finer details are…ahem…consigned to oblivion.  On second thoughts, maybe that’s why everyone instagrams and tweets their way through such occasions.

The Pol Roger 2002 is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and 40% Chardonnay of the Côtes des Blancs. The near-equilibrium in grape varieties was matched by the stunning overall balance of this Champagne. It was aristocratic; the finest Champagne I tasted this year;  Fresh and focussed, but still with a subtle honeyed richness. We could argue for hours as to whether the appealing hint of toastiness was more biscuit than brioche, or whether the minerality reminded you of your chalk eating habit from primary school, but that would have relied on me taking more detailed notes from the evening, and I’ve already made my excuses on that front. At any rate, notes weren’t needed to recall the beautiful layered texture, the fine mousse and the very impressive persistence. I marched back to Wines On The Green the very next day to buy some more.