The history of champagne is full of enterprising widows. Louise Pommery was already a widow at the age of 39 and she probably would have proudly smiled in her grave if she had found out that she was going to give her name to the prestige champagne that was created in her honor in 1979. Pommery, currently owned by Vranken, was founded in 1856 and is today one of the largest champagne houses with their 5.6 million bottles a year. Given that most equivalent champagne houses launched their prestige champagnes during the 50s and 60s, it is a bit surprising that they waited until 1979 before the giant in Reims stepped onto the prestige stage. The reason is said to be that the monegasque Polignac family for a long time was against this novelty, stating that the vintage wine was already perfect.
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Champagnehistorien är fylld av driftiga änkor. Louise Pommery blev änka redan vid 39 års ålder och förmodligen skulle hon ha lett stolt i sin grav om hon fått veta att hon skulle komma att ge namn åt prestigechampagnen som skapades till hennes ära 1979. Pommery som idag ägs av Vranken grundades redan 1856 och är idag ett av de största champagnehusen med sina 5,6 miljoner flaskor om året. Med tanke på att de flesta likvärdiga champagnehus lanserade sina prestigechampagner under 50- och 60-talen är det lite förvånade att man väntade ända till 1979 innan giganten i Reims klev in på prestigescenen. Anledningen lär vara att den monegaskiska Polignacfamiljen länge var emot denna nymodighet då man ansåg att årgångsvinet redan var perfekt.
I was invited to a lunch at the splendid Operakällaren i Stockholm to enjoy a fabulous spring flavored lunch by chef Stefano Catenacci. Thierry Gasco had brought some great vintages from the cellars of Pommery in Reims.
RJ ON POMMERY In 1856 Pommery & Greno was founded after having been known as Dubois-Gossart for the previous twenty years. The firm established a sales channel to the English as early as the nineteenth century, and were pioneers with their dry Champagne—quite without dosage.
The Marquise de Polignac was one of the first owners, and one of her direct descendants, Prince Alain de Polignac, was for a long time the man in charge of assembling the cuvées. Prince Alain is a fascinating man who, better than any other winemaker, can describe the philosophy behind his winemaking art. In 1990, Pommery was one of those firms that ended up as part of the powerful Moët-Hennessy Group, and in 2002 Vranken took over.
But the house-style remains intact, thanks to Thierry Gasco, who was trained by the prince. Pommery is among the firms that own the most land in the grand cru villages, but less well known is the fact that their locations within the area are not always the best. Besides Pommery’s own grapes, 70 percent of their supply comes from throughout Champagne, and they are vinified in modern style. Pommery is undoubtably a great name in historical terms. The house-style is made up of dry, restrained, pure champagnes with young fruit and an unmistakable steeliness that takes many years to round off.
RJ ON CUVÉE LOUISE The cuvée de prestige, Louise Pommery, doesn’t fit that description, but instead is often too soft and polished to compete with the top wines of its competitors. I have been amazed time and again by the greatness of the older vintages from Pommery. Only recently I bought a large number of bottles dating from 1911 to 1979, which have lain untouched since birth in the dark recesses of Champagne. Every bottle that I’ve opened has been fantastic. The modern portfolio is also impressive and aristocratic.
POMMERY ’BRUT ROYAL’ | Reims | Champagne | Frankrike | Pommery | Swedish importer: Gullberg by Stockwine | SBnr 77041pris: 379 sek | 35PN 35PM 30CH | LG 85(85)
TASTING NOTE Some times I get amazed at the richness of Pommerys muktivintage. In other times it is hard and stingy as can get. The style is always uncompromisingly dry with a nice toasty notes. Wins for storage. Soft and comfortable with an uplifting freshness of recent times. 2009-base has a lovely likeable pineapple scented integrated charming fruitiness that will lead to greater popularity.
2002 POMMERY ‘LES CLOS POMPADOUR’ | Reims | Champagne | Frankrike | Pommery | Swedish importer: Gullberg by Stockwine | pris: ca 3 600 sek per magnum | 20N 5PM 75CH | LG 92(94)
TASTING NOTE Only bottled in magnums. Limited edition 3000 magnums. Disgorged April’12. Dosage 9 gr/liter. The first declared vintage year is 2002. First vintage of this 25 acre fenced vineyard in Reims bore fruit 117 years ago. During my last visit we found the old notes to the first vintage in 1897. The blend is the same as then with the repect for the traditon of blending grapes. Here’s the first edition of this rarity only in magnums of course. Wonderfully good and extremely faithful the house style! How can terroir from Reims to play such a subordinate role ? Looks very much like a fine vintage Champagne, although it is always a clean grand cru. The rocky and beautiful mineral profile, together with the almost clinically precise clarity that breathes Pommery straight through. Bold Chardonnay and intense low harvest sockets and perfect winemaking has created a symphony where buttery Chardonnay with gunpowder-smoky notes from the magnum. What a brilliant debut!
Coquille Saint-Jcques de Fröya et ravioli, tomat confites et beurre blanc
2002 Pommery ’Cuvée Louise’ | Reims | Champagne | Frankrike | Pommery | Swedish importer: Gullberg by Stockwine | SBnr 77041pris: 1 292 sek | 35PN 65CH | LG 92(95)
TASTING NOTE It’s the ninth time I try this new vintage. The winemaker Thierry Gasco really enjoy this vintage. A light year in the vineyards. Small but very high quality proportion of Chardonnay. Disgorged in sep’13. Dosage 5 gr/liter. Bright young color, incredibly beautiful mousse, creamy texture and elegant sophisticated fruit. Long potent unredeemed modern aftertaste that follows all the lofty intentions that the house has. After 30 minutes in the glass it will develop a sub-queue notes of sois-bois (undergrowth).
2000 POIMMERY ’CUVÉE LOUISE’ | Reims | Champagne | Frankrike | Pommery | Swedish importer: Gullberg by Stockwine | pris: ca 1 200 sek | 37PN 63CH| LG 90(92)
TASTING NOTE Only 20 000 magnum was produced this year. Disgorged feb’13. Dosage 6 gr/l. Slightly pear dominant right now. Fine strutur and good aroma that pulls against white lilies and almonds. Great energy in the finisch. This one, I will follow the next 20-30 years.
Omble Chevalier cuit au beurre noisette, variation d’Asperges at sauce à l’Ail de Gotland
1990 POIMMERY ’CUVÉE LOUISE VINOTHÈQUE’ rehoboam |Reims | Champagne | Frankrike | Pommery | Swedish importer: Gullberg by Stockwine | 40PN 60CH | LG 96(96)
TASTING NOTEA large and magnificent wine with many layers. The house-style is intact with an extra natural addition of sweet, exotic fruit that is so typical of the vintage. There is so much power here that I am convinced the wine will need to be served with food when it finally matures some time after 2015.