With views of the Brooklyn Bridge from One Hotel rooftop as his backdrop for the evening, Hubert de Billy—a fifth-generation family member of the family-owned Champagne Pol Roger brand—hosted a celebratory dinner to commemorate the brand’s heritage and wines. As the sun set on the Brooklyn Bridge, Hubert and guests toasted to the iconic landmark, whose presence bears witness to the important history between Champagne Pol Roger and New York City. Hubert also discussed the history of the Bridge’s vaults being used as a cellar to store Pol Roger bottles prior to Prohibition.
In 1876, the owner of a local Brooklyn wine shop used the vaults in the base of the Brooklyn Bridge (near Front Street) as a cellar to store his inventory of Pol Roger, a French champagne famously favored by Winston Churchill. The vault’s temperature was 50°F, which happens to be the ideal temperature for storing champagne. The vaults, however, were closed during World War I and repurposed for non-alcohol storage uses during Prohibition. While the vaults are no longer used to store wine, a mural dedicated to Pol Roger still remains inside the vault, as this landmark continues to be an important part of the champagne brand’s legacy.
Following the rooftop reception, Hubert and guests enjoyed a 4-course dinner that was paired with Pol Roger White Foil, Blanc de Blancs 2009, Brut Vintage 2012, Rosé 2009, the highly-coveted Sir Winston Churchill 2008 (which is sold out in France), and the demi-sec Rich NV. Throughout the evening, Hubert discussed Pol Roger’s heritage and also gave fascinating anecdotes on the creation of these wines (it took, for example, his father over 10 years to convince his grandfather to produce a Rosé). Hubert’s immense knowledge of the craft shone through as he explained the delicate balance of selecting grapes at just the right stages of both growth and maturation. The exact proportion of the blends that make each bottle of Pol Roger so distinct, however, remains a family secret.