The pinot meunier grape (one of three used to make champagne) has traditionally been used as a blending grape, but more and more 100% pinot meunier champagnes are emerging.
We are hearing more about them and more are making it out of Champagne so we can try them (woohoo!).
Pinot Meunier Grapes
Pinot meunier grapes get a bit of bad press, somehow being perceived as less worthy than pinot noir and chardonnay. But in reality, pinot meunier grapes are widely used in non-vintage blends… after all they make up 32% of all grapes grown in the Champagne region.
The variety is valuable to soften or round out the youth of NV wines. Pinot meunier grapes also help blend the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. They bring fruitiness and roundness to a champagne (where chardonnay brings freshness and acidity and pinot noir brings fullness).
Mostly grown in the Marne Valley, meunier grapes are resilient and can handle cooler weather and frosts (common in the Marne Valley) better than pinot noir.
Traditionally not known for long ageing, pinot meunier grapes are not often seen in vintage wines and cuvée de prestige champagnes, but Krug and Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque champagnes are exceptions I can recall off the top of my head (although they use small amounts).
Gosset has just become the first grand marque to release a 100% pinot meunier champagne
Champagne Salmon has long positioned themselves as Meunier experts – they have an entire collection of 100% meunier champagnes.
I had quite a few 100% pinot meunier champagnes during my trip in June-July (especially in and around Cumières) and off the top of my head, there’s at least four 100% pinot meunier champagnes online at Emperor.
So this is a hot topic…
But one that comes with my #champagnenerd warning bell.
Pinot meunier and pinot meunier-led champagnes aren’t actually all that new. What is new is that we are getting more exposure to these terroir-specific and small producer champagnes (outside of Champagne).
So what I would say is try as many meunier champagnes as you can, but try them with an open mind. And depending on how and where you are trying them, sometimes I think you are much better off knowing as much as you can about the champagne before you buy or taste it. It sets your senses up for a different experience. Because pinot meunier-led champagnes will taste different. And if you aren’t expecting it – and you certainly aren’t used to it – it might put you off.
It is a different grape leading the charge, so the wines will taste different.
But isn’t that what makes it just so amazing and fun to explore champagne? It would be SO boring if all champagne tasted the same (If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they thought all champagne tasted the same, I’d be a rich little happy champer!)
Have you tried any 100% pinot meunier champagnes? If you are trying some out, make sure you post a pic and tag @bubbleandflute #happychamper
More about meunier...
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