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. Meunier in French means 'miller', and the use of the word in the variety's name refers 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.
Pinot Meunier matures more quickly than Pinot Noir, which 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 stable mates. Consequently, it is less common for high proportions of Pinot Meunier to be used in vintage Champagne.
Very few 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 color than Pinot Noir, but its acid levels are slightly higher. It can taste of confected fruit, occasionally with slightly smoky flavors. It is grown in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Synonyms include: Meunier, Gris Meunier, Farineux, Noirin Enfarine, Mullerrebe, Muller-Traube, Schwarzriesling, Dusty Miller, Miller’s Burgundy.
Popular blends include: Champagne Blend, Pinot Meunier – Pinot Noir.
Food matches include:
Europe: Tuna rillettes; flamiche (Flemish leek pie)
Asia: Mixed-tempura salad; crab omelet
Americas: Ensalada a la Chilena (tomato and onion salad); salt and pepper squid
Australasia/Oceania: Prawns steamed in banana leaves