Champagne Pol Roger
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Full, broad, bright Chablis care of the excellent Jean-Marc Brocard, this is made without oak to avoid masking its crystalline purity.
Product Code: BU69742
View all products by Jean-Marc and Julien Brocard
Jean-Marc Brocard's origins lie in the Côte d'Or. But he was born a farmer's son from the village of Chaudenay-le-Château, and trained as an agricultural engineer, along the way designing and trademarking a trailer attachment. It was an accident of marriage that brought him to wine: he married Claudine (his childhood sweetheart), a vigneron's daughter from the village of St-Bris-le-Vineux in the valley of L’ Yonne. Starting with a hectare of vines from his father-in-law, Emile Petit in 1973. With much hard work he now has control of about 180 hectares, part of which is 'en fermage' (25-year rental agreements). Brocard has gradually become one of the leading lights of Chablis and has been supplying The Society for many years with many wines including The Society’s Chablis and Exhibition Chablis Premier Cru. Despite being a very good businessman, this self-made man also has a great feel and intuitive understanding for the land, in which he was greatly influenced by a friend and mentor called Petit Louis, and has a profound, almost spiritual, belief in how to look after it and allow the terroir to express itself. Since 2012 Jean-Marc has handed over day-to-day control of the vineyards and business to his son Julien, who earned his stripes after successfully gaining organic certification and trialling biodynamic viticulture in the Boissonneuse vineyard, producing wonderful wine from this vineyard. He is now converting all the vineyards of the estate to this method of cultivation. They produce wine from their own vineyards, some 'en fermage' as well as from bought-in grapes. The house style has been for maturation in stainless steel as the delicate aromas of Chablis are easily masked by barrels less than four years old. The winery itself is extremely impressive; built in stages from 1980, it houses stainless steel temperature-controlled fermentation vats to accentuate the purity and freshness of the wines. But they have had great success with foudres (large oak barrels) for certain wines, such as Le Clos and are trialling concrete 'egg'-shaped vats. After years of experimentation, all wines will be bottled with Diam corks or screw caps from the 2012 vintage onwards. These closures best protect the wine during its maturation in bottle. The Brocard range of Chablis to be found in these tanks includes a Vieilles Vignes cuvée which is often exceptional, and the aforementioned La Boissoneuse. Premier Cru examples include Vaucoupin, Vaulorent and Mont de Milieu while the grands crus include Le Clos and Valmur.
Though it is nominally a region of Burgundy there are several factors that make Chablis a quite distinct wine style from its southerly neighbours. The first is distance, the vineyards here being more than sixty miles north of Beaune and separated from the rest of Burgundy by the Morvan Hills. The second is the soil which defines the amphitheatre of hills upon which the best sites lie. The Kimmeridgian clay, which the French call argilo-calcaire, is packed with marine fossils, which in this area sits atop limestone. Finally, and crucially, the climate is considered semi-continental, with no real maritime influence, and where winters are hard and very cold and summers generally hot. One of the biggest risks facing Chablis growers is frost which is a regular and damaging visitor. It is one of the key factors in determining how much wine will be made in any given vintage and most growers go to extraordinary lengths to protect their vines every spring, including heaters among the vines and a spray system that coats the buds with water. The measures taken have meant that life for a Chablis vigneron is not quite the lottery it used to be, though there is much vintage variation still.Chardonnay is the only permitted variety, though there are two schools of thought on how to treat it in the winemaking. Some seek the purest expression of the terroir and the fruit, emphasising the steely, mineral qualities, while others believe that a dash of oak after fermentation can add layers of flavour and complexity to the wine. Most producers eschew oak, and those that do use new barrels rarely use it without restraint.As with the rest of Burgundy, a hierarchy exists to demarcate the best vineyards. Seven Grand Cru vineyards have been registered, all on the south-west facing slopes of the valley of the Serein river. Below this level are 40 Premiers Cru sites. The area that is permitted to produce Chablis AC and some Premiers Crus has expanded in recent decades, as frost damage has been contained, and this has caused some controversy despite arguments that the land newly planted was once Premiers Cru before phylloxera constricted the land under vine.The local cooperative makes about a third of all Chablis, though more and more growers who were once committed to the co-op are now making wine for themselves, which has also led to a concomitant reduction in the number négociants.
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The Society's wine buyers work very closely with our suppliers to determine how best to seal our wines. We list below those closures currently in use with a brief description of each.
A technical cork made up of the remnants from the production of natural corks which are ground down into particles and cleaned and then combined using a food-grade polyurethane glue. A cheaper closure which The Society's buyers discourage suppliers from using.
A technical cork made from cheaper-grade natural cork where the naturally occurring pores are filled with ground down cork particles and then the whole is sealed with a food-grade wax coating. Generally only used for wines with a short shelf-life.
Diam corks look like agglomerate corks but are far superior and are designed to put an end to cork taint and random oxidation. The production process chops cork into pieces and sorts the superior, highly elastic, suberin component from the less elastic lignin, which is discarded. It mixes the suberin with microscopic spheres of the same substance used for contact lenses, which fills the voids between the cork particles reducing porosity to air and increasing elasticity without introducing humidity. Finally the pieces are mixed with a glue and moulded under pressure. The mechanical properties of the cork are guaranteed for a certain minimum number of years depending on the grade of cork - for example Diam 2 is guaranteed for two years; Diam 3, 5 and 10 are also available.
The Champagne cork is 90% agglomerate made from cork off-cuts which are ground down, cleaned, compressed and then glued together with two disks of good quality natural cork glued onto the end which protrudes into the bottle.
Natural corks harvested from the cork oak (Quercus suber) forests in Spain and Portugal have been the closure of choice for wine for the 300 years. The bark of the cork oak is stripped from mature trees every nine years. The planks are stored and then cleaned and graded before the corks are punched out of the wood. For wines destined for long-ageing, high-grade natural corks are still the closure of choice.
Cost-effective synthetic 'corks' made from food-grade plastic with a silicone coating (similar to that used on natural corks). Generally used for wines for short-term cellaring.
A glass stopper with a plastic 'O' ring which acts as an interface between the top of the bottle and the stopper, held in place by a metal, tamper-proof seal. Relatively expensive as a closure and not widely used. Can be removed by hand.
A short natural or agglomerate cork with a plastic or wooden top to enable the stopper to be removed by hand. Traditionally used for whiskies, sherries, Madeira etc.
Aluminium alloy screwcaps made with an expanded polyethylene wadding for the lining. Screwcaps are also known as ROTEs (roll-on tamper evident) or by the brand name (Stelvin is a popular brand). Widely used in Australia and New Zealand and for wines for short-term cellaring. Becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of allowing differing levels of permeability so mimicking the properties of natural cork offering winemakers more choice depending of the style of wine being made. There is still a lack of sound data regarding the performance of screwcaps for longer-term cellaring.
This is an agglomerate cork with a disk of good-quality natural cork adhered to both ends. A reasonably priced, reliable alternative to natural cork.
This is the metal pilfer-proof cap usually used to seal beer bottles but also used in the production of Champagne and sparkling wine when wines are stored under crown cap before the dosage is added. A few producers use crown caps to seal wine bottles. Open with a standard bottle opener.
Jamie Goode has written an excellent book on the subject of closures for those wishing to find out more (Wine Bottle Closures, Flavour Press).
The Society includes the alcohol by volume percentage figure for each wine available online, in Lists and offers.
Alcohol by volume%
Units per standard bottle
We always include the abv (alcohol by volume) in our wines online, in our Lists and in our offers. Members looking to choose wines with lower levels of alcohol can now search our range by level of alcohol.
It is generally accepted that over the last 20 years or so alcohol levels in wine have been increasing. There are many reasons why, including but not limited to the vast improvement in vineyard management techniques which have resulted in healthier, riper fruit being harvested. Alcohol is a by-product of the fermentation of sugars in the grapes and the best-quality wines are made from grapes that have reached physiological ripeness (colour, flavour and tannin), and this generally happens after sugar ripeness.
There are several techniques that can be used to reduce alcohol levels but currently most strip the flavour as well as the alcohol, and we don't buy wines made in this way.
Excellent-quality wine is at the heart of everything we do at The Wine Society and balance is the single most important feature of quality. The interaction of a wine's sugar, acidity, tannin, alcohol and flavour matter more than the actual level of alcohol. A well-made wine of 14.5%, for example, will taste more balanced than an inferior-quality wine with 10% alcohol. Furthermore, alcohol levels are only a guide to a wine's fullness: a 12.5% cabernet sauvignon may feel heavier and more full-bodied in the mouth than, say, a gamay of 13.5%. Our tasting notes should be able to give you an idea of the style and fullness of an individual wine.
We are committed to promoting the responsible enjoyment of wines and spirits by providing relevant information to our members that allows you to make your own informed choices.
An additional figure used on some labels (including all our Society and Exhibition wines) is the number of (UK) units of alcohol contained in that bottle. This is simply the alcohol by volume percentage multiplied by the content (so a 13% wine in a standard 75cl bottle will have 9.7 units ).
For more information, please get in touch with us or visit drinkaware.co.uk
The Society's buyers provide recommended drink dates for all of our wines to help members decide the right time to pop the cork. As a general rule, most everyday white wines are best enjoyed within a year of purchase, and most everyday reds within two years. Certain fine wines, however, those with the right structure and balance, have the ability to evolve over time and gain complexity and finer nuances of flavour.
If the product page says:
...then our advice would be:
Should be drunk over the coming months, certainly within the year.
Ready to drink now but will keep until the year shown.
We recommend keeping longer before opening. For example, a wine will be ready to drink in 2020 but still young and will keep until 2042. It's a matter of personal taste when such wines should be drunk. Many members prefer to try the wines over many years from the opening drink date to the last to watch the wine evolve.
Within one year of purchase
A non-vintage wine that should be drunk within 12 months.
Within two years of purchase
A non-vintage wine that is ready now but will keep for two years.
Savouring the wonderfully complex and intense bouquet and flavour of a wine drank at its peak is undoubtedly one of life's greatest pleasures. As with people, the ageing process will vary from wine to wine. Over the years the wine's primary aromas of fresh fruit will develop more complicated and persistent secondary and tertiary aromas. The fruity flavours of, for example, a premier cru white Burgundy will, over time, evolve buttery, toasty and yeast aromas, or fine reds may develop coffee, cedar, tobacco, vegetal, or even 'animal' flavours as they age.
There is much pleasure to be had by experimenting with bottles at different stages of maturity; finding out how a wine evolves with age and, perhaps more importantly, establishing your own preference in terms of taste for mature wine are all part of the interest and excitement of cellaring wine.
The drinking window we provide is a guide to when the wines will be at their best. Many will favour the wines in the youthful early stages of their development; others will enjoy the wines at their most mature.
Decanting is a useful way of softening the tannins, rounding out the flavours and releasing the potential of a young wine. To find out more please visit our Serving Wine guide.
The Society's purpose-built, temperature-controlled Members' Reserves offers members access to optimum storage conditions for their wines.
For more help and advice about how best to enjoy your wines contact us via our enquiry form.
Oak plays a very important role in the production of wine throughout the world. However, the level of oak detectible in a wine can vary depending on a number of factors – for example, the age and size of the barrel and the type of oak used, as well as the length of time the wine is aged in wood. Oak also influences the structure and tannins of the final wine. For wines on our website, we use the following classifications:
This suggests that a wine has either seen no oak at all, or may have been produced using very large, old oak barrels, resulting in a wine that has no taste of oak. Expect these wines to be crisp, fruit-forward and aromatic.
Some oak has been used in the production, yet it has not been a defining factor in the style of the wine. In this instance, the oak may have played more of a part in the structure of the wine but there will still be discreet flavours associated with the use of new oak.
Wines that are defined by and known for their use of new oak. This must not be confused with a wine which is 'overly oaky' as that would purely be down to bad winemaking! We buy only wines that, we believe, use oak in a balanced and appealing way, enhancing flavour and complexity, and/or imparting structure.
How detectable oak is depends a good deal on the size of the barrel and how new it is. New oak provides a much more evident flavour and aroma and must be used carefully. The size of the barrel is important, as the smaller the barrel, the more surface area of the wine is in contact with the wood and the more flavour will be drawn out. Often, very large old oak barrels are used, which impart little or no oak flavour to the wine at all. They will still bring an extra dynamic to the final taste of a wine though, when compared to stainless steel or concrete vessels, as oak is porous and therefore lets a small amount of air into the barrel. This controlled oxidation has a positive effect on wines, softening the tannins and developing secondary flavours, all helping to add a complexity which comes with age.
There are many ways that people rate wines, whether it is on the 100 or 20 point scales, 5 stars, 3 glasses or simply thumbs up or down. The pleasure of a bottle of wine is hard to express in figures, but it does help give the memory of that wine a context, and a way of sharing your opinion with others.
In response to members' requests we have added a star rating option to the site so you can mark your favourites, or maybe those occasional less-than-welcome experiences, and make your next order easier.
You can use the 5-star rating tool to record your experiences however you wish, but if you are looking for some guidance we believe that a focus on the 'value' of the wine takes into account the quality but also the pleasure it provided, and whether it is something you would recommend to friends.