Berry Bros and Pol Roger: can Brexit help revive “perfect-sized” Champagne bottles?
Berry Bros & Rudd and Champagne house Pol Roger are jointly campaigning for the return of imperial pints of Champagne, with the hope that Brexit could provide an opportunity for this “perfect-sized” bottle’s revival.
At present, EU regulation prohibits the imperial pint with legislation specifying the format and size of sparkling wine bottles sold in the UK – 37.5cl for half bottles and full bottles at 75cl.
The imperial pint, which has a capacity of 56.8cl, would sit between the half bottle and full bottle, at a size considered by many as ideal for sharing. The bottle size was made popular in the UK by Winston Churchill, who believed pint bottles held just the right amount “enough for two at lunch and one at dinner”.
Simon Berry, chairman of wine merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, has long been petitioning for the return of this bottle size.
He said: “I have been campaigning to bring back the imperial pint for over thirty years and until recently I was no closer to winning this battle – but perhaps recent events will change that.
“The imperial makes for a perfect-sized bottle. You get four proper-sized glasses from it – as opposed to six from a bottle, or three from a half-bottle. Champagne is designed to be shared, ideally with one other person. The Imperial pint gives two drinkers a couple of glasses each when a half-bottle would seem mean and a bottle lavish.”
Meanwhile, Pol Roger has already started discussions with its glass supplier.
James Simpson, managing director of the Pol Roger subsidiary in the UK, and advocate of the imperial pint, visited Berry Bros & Rudd this week with an imperial pint of Pol Roger 1914 Vintage Champagne, to continue discussions with Simon Berry.
He said: “Brexit has raised a number of concerns and questions within the drinks industry, but regarding the revival of the imperial pint, we could have an opportunity.
“Though even assuming we would be able to restart production of the imperial pint, the nature of bottle ageing Champagne means it would still be a number of years before we would start seeing Pol Roger in imperial pints again.
“The first production would not come on to the market for approximately four years for non-vintage Champagne and it would be eight years for Vintage Champagne.”
In 1992 the EU prohibited the sale in the UK of 50cl bottles, which were being introduced to the market by Champagne Veuve Cliquot. The company had spent five years procuring the bottles, filling them, maturing the wine and then launching them.
Once the exact terms of Brexit are made available Champagne producers will know whether the revival of the imperial pint could become a reality.