Pinot Meunier

Pinot Meunier

Pinot Meunier is a grape variety that holds a significant role in the production of Champagne, contributing flourish complexity to the aristocratic blend with other noble grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Holding a more rustic heritage than its sophisticated Champagne siblings, it is often minoritised and uncredited, yet its contribution is far from minimal. Pinot Meunier, often just referred to as 'Meunier', gets its name from the French word for 'miller', alluding to the flour-like dusting on the underside of its leaves, akin to that of a miller’s attire.

Unpretentious and resilient, Meunier finds its home in the cooler, clay-rich soils in the Marne Valley and the more peripheral areas of Champagne, neighbourhoods where the more aristocratic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay would struggle to ripen. While it might be dismissed for its lack of pedigree, it brings invaluable consistency to Champagne's conventional triumvirate. Being frost hardy and early ripening, Meunier effectively shields against the capricious whims of weather in this northerly and chill-prone region.

Despite being traditionally blended and hidden behind the grandeur of Champagne, Meunier is undergoing a rebirth. A new generation of adventurous growers are harnessing its unique qualities, giving it the spotlight in single-varietal wines, revealing its ability to produce wines of intriguing depth and aromatic nuance. These wines unveil a range of expressive aromas — think plums, cherries, and fresh-baked bread — and exhibit a fruit-forward, expressive character that challenges the old attitudes of it being inferior or less refined.

Pinot Meunier remains an essential yet somewhat unsung hero of Champagne, bringing balance, drinkability, and resilience as part of the region’s traditional trifecta. Increasing appreciation and exploration over the recent years are just the early stages of the grape-wide recognition that it clearly deserves.

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