Pinot Meunier, which is also known as Meunier, is a well-known dark red grape varietal from the Pinot grape family used in sparkling wine productions and Champagne blends. In some regions, though, it is used to make still wines. Pinot Meunier is known to contribute body, fresh fruit aromas, and richness to a variety of wines like the rose wine, as well as other dry red wines.
Pinot Meunier gets its name from French “Meunier,” which is translated to “miller” in English because of the physical characteristics of the vine. The vine’s leaves have small white hair-like spikes from the bottom that make the leaves look like they have flour traces. Flour is associated with a miller hence the name Meunier.
Even though the grapes were first cultivated in Australia (which is still believed to possess the oldest vines in the world), this grape variety is widespread in France. In the Champagne region of France, Pinot Meunier vines cover over fort percent, which is about a third of the total vine cover.
It is a preferred grape compared to other species like Pinot Noir because it ripens quite early even though it buds relatively late. It also isn’t easily attacked by powdery mildew, and this makes it a more accessible species to cultivate.
Another reason for it being a preferred species to cultivate is the fact that it is often harvested before fall rains. Thus, it is never affected by botrytis rot, unlike many grape varieties that are harvested after the rains.
Other than France and Australia (where is known as Miller’s Burgundy), Pinot Meunier is also cultivated in parts of United States and in Germany (where it is known as Müllerrebe or Schwarzriesling), Canada, Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand that provide cold and damp climatic conditions that are ideal for its growth.
Pinot Meunier is characterized by smooth berry and jammy flavors and aromas together with a strong natural smokiness and vanilla hints on the palate.
On the mouth, Pinot Meunier is highly acidic, crispy, and low in tannins. And to the nose, it tends to exhibit cherry and cranberry aromas. Depending on the aging period, the red grape color can noticeably turn a bit darker, taste riper, and slightly bitter.
Depending on the desired wine style, Pinot Meunier is harvested in intervals, and this can either be machine-based or handpicked. Its tight and small clusters make it easy for it to be machine-harvested. Typically, the first harvest is dedicated to sparkling wine production as the must from the pressed grapes oxidize quickly. Weeks later (about two or three), another harvest is done. This is directed to the production of still wines.
The type of fermentation style and process it is subjected to also entirely depends on the style of wine that is meant to be produced at the end of the day.
Stand-alone Pinot Meunier wines (solely from the Pinot Meunier grape) are not conventional, but incredible blends of the same are found in the market. Most Pinot Meunier wines fall between the light and medium-bodied spectrum with rich smoky, fruity flavors, and aromas. Their acidity levels are also relatively high, and this makes them great wines to pair with a variety of foods.
One thing about Pinot Meunier wine is that it is considered to have little aging potential. It is therefore served as a blend in Champagne wine and sparkling wine that are meant to be consumed early or young. Wines that contain Pinot Meunier and need maturing are often aged in neutral oak barrels. By so doing, the real character of the wine is manifested.
Pinot Meunier wine goes by many names in the market, including Meunier wine, Müllerrebe Schwarzriesling wine, Gris Meunier wine, Dusty Miller wine, Noirin Enfarine wine, Miller’s Burgundy wine, Muller-Traube wine as well as Farineux wine.
- Jerome Prevost La Closerie Fac-Simile Extra Brut Rose wine, Champagne wine, France
- Champagne Delamotte Brut NV wine
- Georges Laval Cumieres Les Hautes Chevres Blanc de Noirs Premier Cru Brut Nature Millesime wine, Champagne wine, France
- Weingut Darting Pinot Meunier 2016 wine
- Tarlant La Vigne d’Or Blanc de Meuniers Extra Brut, Champagne, France
- Chartogne-Taillet Les Barres Extra Brut, Champagne, France
Because of its acidity levels, Pinot Meunier wine makes a perfect match to most barbequed and fatty dishes. The acid in it neutralizes and complements the hot fats and smoky flavors while the intense berry flavors enhance the dishes’ flavors. Seafood like Tuna rillettes, Prawns, Squid, and grilled vegetables are also a great pair with Pinot Meunier.
Knowing that Pinot Meunier is rarely produced as a standalone wine, it’s hard to find it as a wine label. Though it is said to be closely related to Pinot Noir wine, Pinot Meunier wines are lighter in color with higher acidity and often more abundant in fruity aromas. Wines made as blends from this grape variety are commonly consumed younger when the aromas are at their peak.