In both France and Germany the Pinot Meunier grape is used to produce sparkling wines. To the east of the Rhine it is mainly grown in Württemberg. It is rarely encountered as a varietal wine.
Characteristics of Pinot Meunier
Pinot Meunier is a popular red wine belonging to the Burgundy family of grapes, and it was once thought that the grape was a descendent of Pinot noir. In the meantime wine experts have established that Pinot Meunier is a founder grape within this family as it has been involved in numerous crossings, including with Traminer. The Pinot Meunier grape variety is very old: there is documentary evidence that the grape was already grown in the 16th century.
Pinot Meunier is a grape variety that is easy to grow as it is not fussy about climate, site or soil. It also helps that the vine is relatively resilient to frost. Among other things, this stems from a particular trait of the Pinot Meunier grape, namely a mutated gene. The mutation means that the grape will not react to gibberellic acid, a growth hormone that is responsible for, among other things, the ability to germinate and the speed of germination. As a consequence, the Pinot Meunier grape undergoes a particular ripening process that differs from Pinot noir and other grape varieties. The small berries of the Pinot Meunier vine are also due to this gene mutation.
Synonyms for Pinot Meunier
Not everyone knows Pinot Meunier. This may be because the grape is known under different names in many regions. In Germany, Pinot Meunier is called Schwarzriesling or Müllerrebe. However, Pinot Meunier has very little in common with the Riesling grape – only the shape and growth are similar. But why the name Müllerrebe? This is a reference to the actual plant and the fact that the underside of its leaves are covered in lots of very fine downy hairs, creating the impression that the vine has been dusted with flour.In Austria on the other hand, Pinot Meunier is known as Blaue Postitschtraube, and as Miller’s Burgundy in Australia.
Distribution of the Pinot Meunier grape variety
The Pinot Meunier grape is chiefly found in France and Germany: in France’s Champagne region it covers around 30% of the total vineyard area, i.e. 11,000+ hectares. Much of the growing area lies in the Marne Valley. Along with Chardonnay and Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier is an important constituent of the base wine for Champagne. In its homeland of Burgundy, however, Pinot Meunier is not approved for the production of quality wines.In Germany, Pinot Meunier is grown mainly in Württemberg on some 2,300 hectares in total. This equates to approximately 2% of the total vineyard hectarage in Germany.There are also smaller Pinot Meunier growing areas in the following countries:
What’s special about Pinot Meunier wine?
Wines made from Pinot Meunier are very fruity and finely structured, with flavours similar to Pinot noir wines. Characteristic is a ruby red or brick red colour. For the most part, Pinot Meunier grapes are vinifiedas dry wines, although occasionally semi-sweet styles are encountered. The grapes are mostly used to make quality wines (“Qualitätswein”), and sometimes also superior quality Spätlese and Kabinett wines.Pinot Meunier adds the typical soft fruity flavours to Champagne.Wines made from the Pinot Meunier grape variety are true all-rounders, ranging from Champagnes for special occasions through to wines simply to enjoy drinking with a late supper cheeseboard. If you want to serve a Pinot Meunier wine with food, it pairs particularly well with meat dishes. Why not try it for yourself and order a couple of bottles? Either directly online at Mondovino or in one of our Coop stores.