Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2004

Cuvee: Blanc de Blancs
Vintage: 1999

Vintage Champagne according to Pol Roger

Champagne’s geographical location (its vineyards are the most northerly in France) engenders capricious weather. For this reason, since 1849, Pol Roger the founder of Champagne Pol Roger observed the tradition of not releasing a vintage-dated champagne unless the climactic conditions permitted the production of grapes of outstanding ripeness.

A vintage champagne must, above all else be a balanced champagne. This balance depends on the happy meld of degree of potential alcohol (the sweetness of the grapes) with sufficient freshness needed to satisfy all the senses.

The first criterion for declaring a vintage wine is its capacity to age, which can only come about with a level of acidity sufficiently higher than its perceived balance on tasting. Devotees who have the patience to age their vintage champagnes are rewarded with a much more complex and rich wine.

The Blend

Although a number of other champagne houses have staked their reputation on the maturing of their wines in oak barrels. Champagne Pol Roger abandoned this approach in 1930, favouring instead concrete and more recently, stainless steel. In 2001, 2004 and again in 2008 the expansion of the stainless steel armoury in Pol Roger’s cellars has continued this manoeuvre. The preference for stainless steel rests on a respect for maintaining the quality of the fruit by judicious temperature control of the musts during clarification and vinification. This technique goes some way in explaining not only the remarkable finesse of Pol Roger’s champagnes, but also their clean, direct and honest character.

The Brut Blanc de Blancs 1999 from Champagne Pol Roger is a classic blanc de blancs, vinified from 100% Chardonnay grapes selected from the Grand Crus of the Côte des Blancs: Cremant, Le Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Oiry. Made in only limited quantities, the Brut Blanc de Blancs 1999 has been aged for 7 years in the Pol Roger cellars before being released onto the market.

1999: An Exceptional Year

1999 was characterised climactically by elevated warmth across the growing season of +1.8⁰C on average and heavier rains than normal, spread right throughout the vegetative cycle.

Bud burst began in April: on the 6th for the Chardonnay vines, on the 11th for the Pinot Noir and then on the 13th for the Pinot Meunier.
Generally the season from May until the harvest passed without incident apart from some bouts of hail which affected 61 communes and which fell on 2,840 hectares of which 450 hectares were destroyed completely.

With regard to the vegetative development, the year can be characterised as vigorous: the first topping of the vine shoots began on the 10th June. The number of trimming of the rows of vines averaged 4.3 across the region.

No physiological problems occurred. Only towards the end of the season were certain autumnal colours seen in the otherwise verdant vineyards - a sign of some fatigue, due to the elevated summer temperatures.

Taking the region as a whole, the harvest began on the 19th September and finished on the 1st October. The rains which fell during the harvest (more than double the average rains) did not prevent the harvest from breaking records! 19,000 kg/ha led to a certain dilution: down 0.5% volume of potential alcohol and down 1 gram of total acidity and up 0.10-0.15pH.

The harvest was nonetheless exceptional combining very healthy grapes from an abundant crop with very decent maturity (9.9% vol).

Key Facts and Figures from 1999

Vineyard under production: 30,170 hectares
Available AOC yield: 12,000 kg/ha
Blocked AOC yield: 1,000 kg/ha
Total AOC yield: 13,000 kg/ha

Tasting Notes

Eye

A light, lively colour with fine bubbles.

Nose

The nose starts off exuberant and generous revealing a wide range of complex aromas: marshmallow, violets, liquorice, brioche, toast and almonds. In the second nose, these notes develop a more powerful resonance of musk, leather and even iodine, signature of the noble origin of the Chardonnays and the evolution of the mature character of the 1999 vintage.

Palate

In the mouth, the bold attack develops into a balance of fullness and strength, giving way to retro-olfactory notes dominated by fruitiness (fresh fruit), underpinned by a “ground swell” of power that gives the wine its structure. A champagne whose current elegance and robustness promise great organoleptic development.

Food Pairing

Pol Roger Brut Blanc de Blancs 1999 will be the perfect accompaniment for a gourmet dish where the dominant character is based on the combination of roasted notes with a sweet and savoury sauce, to sustain the powerful, complex nature of the wine. Roasted duck fillet with a sweet and sour sauce or wild partridge with caramelised pears would provide marriage.


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