Pinot Meunier

Pinot Meunier (historically just Meunier) is a dark berried grape variety most famously used in the Champagne blend. Less highly acclaimed than its partners Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier is something of a quiet workhorse in Champagne. The word meunier is French for "miller", and refers here to the "floury" appearance of the underside of the vines' leaves.

Pinot Meunier tends to be planted in areas too cold for the other two and is widely used as an insurance grape against poor vintages. This is because Pinot Meunier buds later and ripens earlier than Pinot Noir and is more accepting of the cold, north-facing vineyards around Aube.

The fact that Pinot Meunier matures more quickly than Pinot Noir makes it ideal to help soften non-vintage Champagne wines in their youth. However, on its own, Pinot Meunier does not age well and might fall out of balance if not supported by its Champagne stablemates. Consequently, it is less common for high proportions of Pinot Meunier to be used in vintage Champagne.

Very few single varietal Pinot Meunier wines are commercially produced and those that are are regarded as something of a curiosity by most consumers. They are generally rosé wines designed for early consumption, or sparkling wines.

Pinot Meunier is lighter in colour than Pinot Noir, but its acid levels are slightly higher. It can taste of confected fruit, occasionally with slightly smoky flavours. It is grown in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
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