Interview – Pommery
Aviator caught up with Sara Hicks, UK director of Pommery, and got the lowdown on this iconic Champagne brand’s history and exciting upcoming plans.
Please could you tell us about Pommery’s history and the family behind the brand?
Louis Pommery, having made his fortune in the wool trade, decided to invest in a Champagne company with Narcisse Greno, in 1856, forming Pommery & Greno. Sadly, Louis was of poor health and died in 1858 leaving his young widow, Jeanne-Alexandrine Louise Pommery, to take over the running of the family business. The quiet life was not for Jeanne-Alexandrine, who set out to put her fortune to good use. Despite having no experience, Madame Pommery proved to be an excellent business woman, but she was also a kindhearted soul. She had two children to support and understood the need to provide for one’s family. She set up the first pension and social security fund for her workers and provided investment for the first orphanage and nurses in Reims. She also had a passion for art and supported local artists. Amassing over 600 artworks she bequeathed them to Reims Museum and Millet’s ‘The Gleaners’ to the French State (something long before it became a ‘fashionable or corporate’ thing to do).
Madame Pommery was a great innovator and created the first commercial ?Brut? style of Champagne especially to suit the English palate. In 1874 ‘Pommery Brut Nature’ was launched onto the market. This conflicted with the style of the day for ‘excessively sweetened’ wines but is now seen as the benchmark today, with over 99% of all Champagne sold in retail being dry in style.
Brut Royal is Pommery’s signature Champagne. What the process behind making such a well loved Champagne?
Brut Royal NV is the signature Champagne from Pommery, created with the expertise and know-how of Chef de Cave, Thierry Gasco. This exceptional cuvée is crafted from an equal blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes harvested from around 40 carefully selected vineyards in the Champagne region. Brut Royal is a non-vintage Champagne, therefore each year a portion of reserve wine (from previous harvests) is combined with the current to ensure that its exceptional quality and style is maintained from year to year. The combination of harvests helps to relieve the effect that fluctuations in weather will have on the grapes, leading to varying levels of ripeness.
Once blended, Brut Royal NV is bottled and stored within the 18km of Pommery’ chalk cellars which lay 30m under the Pommery Domaine itself. Commissioned by Madame Pommery in the 1860’s, these took more than ten years to excavate and today house more than 25 million bottles. Pommery Brut Royal is left untouched in the cellar for a minimum of three years during which time it develops the desired complexity and character, whilst still maintaining a beautiful freshness that is typical of the Pommery style. Once disgorged (when the sediment is removed from the bottle and the ubiquitous cork, metal capsule and wire cage are applied), Brut Royal is then put back into the cellar for a minimum of three months to completely settle. The end result is a fine, delicate and generous wine. It is moreish and buttery with citrus fruit and white flower notes that combine with small red fruits to offer elegance, balanced with a great finesse and complex finish. Quite simply described as ‘fresh, vivacious’ and ‘elegant’.
The Pommery Domaine is open all year round for visits and tastings. Please contact www.champagnepommery.com for bookings and opening times.
What other Champagnes does Pommery have in it’s collection, and what dishes would they best suit?
Pommery produce Champagne in a numbers of very different styles, each of which can be matched perfectly with a variety of foods. For example, our Brut Royal NV would be a superb match with Dorset oysters or crispy salt and pepper squid with a lime dressing. Our Vintage Grand Cru would have sufficient structure, flavour and body to compliment crab, mackerel or the creamiest of fish sauces. Apanage Rosé NV has exceptional fruit concentration and freshness to pair effortlessly with strawberries.
What are Pommery’s exciting upcoming plans?
In May 2016, Pommery announced that from this year?s harvest, it would start to produce English Sparkling Wine under the Champagne know-how and expertise of Pommery Chef de Cave Thierry Gasco at Hattingley Valley in Hampshire.
Champagne Pommery will be launching its new cuvée, Pommery Royal Blue Sky NV as part of Aviator’s 8th birthday celebrations in August. The latest innovation from Chef de Cave, Thierry Gasco and a whole new experience, Pommery Royal Blue Sky is a Champagne made with a traditional blend of Pinot Noir, Meunier, and Chardonnay but with a higher dosage. This extra sweetness enhances the natural ripeness of the fruit allowing Pommery Royal Blue Sky to be enjoyed ?on the rocks?.
Aviator will be teaming up with Pommery this Summer to deliver a series of exciting events. Join us from Thursday 4th August to Sunday 7th August, where guests can enjoy our outdoor cinema event Screen On The Lawn, featuring an exclusive Pommery Champagne bar.
While on Friday 26th August, Aviator will be celebrating its 8th Birthday with an exclusive DJ set from the internationally renowned Spencer Mac. Also marking the occasion will be a complimentary glass of Pommery’s new Royal Blue Sky Champagne, for each guest.
More from this issue
Tracey Curtis Taylor