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The Pinot Meunier Grape

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About Pinot Meunier

(Synonyms: Auvernat Blanc, Gris Meunier, Meunier, Morillon Taconné, Müllerrebe, Samtrot, Schwarzriesling)


Map showing the Champagne region of France

Pinot Meunier (sometimes just called "Meunier") is a red-wine grape of the Pinot family (which famously mutates easily), most closely related to Pinot Noir.

Pinot Meunier seems to have emerged as a distinct varietal about five centuries ago. At one time, it was widely grown throughout northern France; it is still prevalent, but is now especially concentrated in the Champagne region, where it is one of the three major grapes used in the making of sparkling Champagne wines, to which it contributes body and richness. It is also nowadays starting to be bottled as a monovarietal red, though such bottlings are still not common. It can be vinified as a red of some depth, or also as a rosé, or as an off-dry red, even occasionally as a white wine; it is the table red that is of most interest among the monovarietal bottlings.

In Champagne, for no clear reason (some trace it back a prejudice of the original M. Moët), Pinot Meunier was long somewhat disdained, considered a “minor” component of Champagnes; more recently (though the house of Krug championed Pinot Meunier throughout), it has come to be seen as important and durable, and some excellent makers are now even producing 100% Pinot Meunier Champagnes. The idea that Pinot Meunier, as a blending ingredient or on its own, does not age well is belied by numerous counter-examples, but it continues to be parroted.

Pinot Meunier as a monovarietal table red shows clear similarities to its more famous cousin, Pinot Noir, but has a distinctive qualities all its own. Such wines are typically light to medium in body and fruity in aroma and flavor, often richly so. Some describe a “smoky” quality, others refer to a “rustic” quality (whatever that may be suposed to indicate, possibly what others call "earthiness"). Flavors cited range from the typical red berries (especially raspberry) through the darker blue-black fruits (such as blueberry), as well as an background of “spiciness”.

In France, it is felt that by far the best Pinot Meunier comes from old vines (something true of many varietals), so New World specimens may not have as much depth as the grape is capable of.

There seems little awareness so far of monovarietal Pinot Meunier, and the literature readily available is sparse; that is a great shame, as it is a delicious wine.

Factoid: Pinot Meunier is genetically a "chimera": its inner cell layers are composed of a Pinot genotype which is close to Pinot noir or Pinot gris; the outer, epidermal, layer is however made up of a mutant, distinctive, genotype.

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Some Descriptions of Pinot Meunier Wines

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Some Pinot Meuniers to Try

(About this list.)

Despite all the interesting comments above, still Pinot Meunier bottlings are—at least in the U.S. retail market—hen’s teeth. The list below is about all worth even contemplating.

(Ron Rubin at River Road Vineyards used to make a nice Pinot Meunier for the Total Wine chain, but we haven’t seen it in years now.)

Saint Gregory Pinot Meunier

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Reviews” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks.

Kurt Darting “Trocken” Pinot Meunier
(Note that the consumer reviews, at both Wine Searcher and CedllarTracker, are much more favorable than the pro critics’.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Reviews” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks.

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For a Splurge

There are no generally available Pinot Meunier wines in our price range notably better than those listed above.

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This page was last modified on Saturday, 30 October 2021, at 11:26 pm Pacific Time.