The royal couple have chosen Pol Roger champagne for their wedding celebrations, accordingly to Decanter magazine. This champagne is known as the gentleman’s champagne, for its association with Sir Winston Churchill (who was a big fan and in whose honour the house’s top wine cuvee was named), and also for its mature and often broad-shouldered style.
I am frequently asked: ‘Is champagne really better than sparkling wine?’ I have recently had great fun in testing this with wine tasting across a variety of sparklers, during WSET wine courses in Dublin.
If you like flavours of fresh baked bread, finer more persistent bubbles, and a broad palate of flavours which is to be found in mature wines, then ‘Yes’ is the answer.
First of all, Champagne may only be used when the wine is made using a meticulous traditional method, from the Champagne area, north east of Paris.
Pol Roger prides itself on its fine bubbles, having deeper cellars than other houses, which they say enhances the bead.
Most champagnes are a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, but those which include a higher proportion of red grapes tend toward a weightier style. Pol Roger NV uses equal proportions, but leans on Pinot Noir in its vintage wines. Veuve Clicquot and Bollinger would also tend towards Pinots.
Champagnes can age, particularly when from an outstanding producer, and from a good vintage. As it ages, youthful flavours of citrus are enhanced by further layers of spice, and greater yeastiness. The bubbles will become less lively.
Most non-vintages are delightful when young, but some houses invest time in maturing their wines, such as Charles Heidsieck and Bruno Paillard. This latter producer is an exciting maverick – an independent house, competing against the other well-known ‘grand-marque’ champagnes.
Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill, which is made from top quality grapes from the best vineyards, and only in magnificent years, is frequently aged for about 10 years.
There is so much more to learn about champagne, but in the meantime, do your homework and check out Kate & William’s favourite, Pol Roger. Around €45, from specialist wine shops.