Notes from a Champagne Tasting 02.24.2013

Pouring the good stuff at the Pol Roger tasting at MacArthur Beverages

Shortly after I met Eric, he introduced me to what I now think is the best champagne:  Pol Roger.  He was quite insistent that Pol Roger was the way to go, and he was right.  That first sip to the last of Pol Roger, the crisp cut of the white grapes mixed with the tiniest bit of sweetness, is pure happiness.  It's not surprising that Winston Churchilll loved this champagne so much.

The label from our 1997 Churchill
Shortly after we were engaged, we received a vintage 1997 Pol Roger Brut Cuvee Winston Churchill.  We waited to drink it at our wedding reception and enjoyed every single sip.  And you know every time there is an impending natural disaster or national security threat, I run out and get a bottle or two of Pol Roger just in case the world does end.  And when it doesn’t end, I celebrate by drinking Pol Roger champagne.  It’s really a win-win.

MacArthur Beverages yesterday held a tasting of four varieties of Pol Roger champagne, and it did not take much convincing for me to go.  One was the 1999 Winston Churchill ($199).  There also was a 2004 Rose ($99), a 1999 Blanc de Chardonnay ($109), and the Brut Reserve (what I call the “plain Jane” Pol Roger) for $44.99.  (All of the prices noted are sale prices.)  My favorite was the plain Jane, followed by the Blanc de Chardonnay.  I was surprised not to be blown over by the Churchill, but there it is.  I also really enjoyed the Rose and would drink that again.  But if forced to choose one, definitely the Brut Reserve.  Simple and spectacular.

One of my dream house fantasies involves a rather large wine fridge stocked – every single slot – with Pol Roger Brut Reserve.  Do I want a wall of champagne more than a walk-in closet?  Why yes I do.

Cita Stelzer speaking with champagne tasters next to her book

The tasting yesterday was combined with a book signing by Cita Stelzer, who wrote Dinner with Churchill:  Policy-Making at the Dinner Table.  Stelzer also talked about the book on The Splendid Table yesterday, and I recommend you listen to that conversation.  You can find the show on iTunes under podcasts. Churchill was a gourmand and consumed food and drink with great vigor.  He is known for using the dinner table for international relations, and passionately (and quite effectively) used the table stage as a on which to accomplish his goals .

I’m excited to read this book for a number of reasons, but primarily because the idea of being at the table with people – whether friends or world leaders – is not an insignificant thing.  Aside from the food, there is the conversation, and the building, sustaining, or falling apart of relationships that happens.  The manner in which all of that unfolds is unique at the table because it requires pacing and time.  The placing of plates, silverware, napkins, and glasses – you could not do that without the prospect of time, and time is required for any relationship.

Shall we toast to long, interesting dinners?
MacArthur Beverages
4877 MacArthur Blvd, NW
Washington, DC 20007


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