Focus on the Grape – Pinot Meunier

by | Jun 27, 2024 | 0 comments

The Charm of Pinot Meunier: A Grape Worth Celebrating

Pinot Meunier, often overshadowed by its more famous sibling Pinot Noir, is a grape variety that deserves its moment in the spotlight. While it may not have the same widespread recognition, Pinot Meunier plays a crucial role in the world of winemaking, particularly in the production of sparkling wines. Let’s delve into the origins, characteristics, and contributions of this underappreciated grape.

Origins and History

Pinot Meunier, also known simply as Meunier, is one of the three main grape varieties used in the production of Champagne, alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Its name, derived from the French word for “miller,” refers to the flour-dusted appearance of the vine’s leaves. This is due to a white, powdery coating on the underside of the leaves, giving them a look reminiscent of being dusted with flour.

The grape has been cultivated for centuries, with its origins traced back to France. It thrives particularly well in the cooler climate of the Champagne region and now the clay soils of Kent, where it accounts for about a third of the plantings. While Pinot Meunier’s exact origins remain somewhat murky, it is closely related to Pinot Noir and is believed to be a mutation of the Pinot family.

Characteristics of Pinot Meunier

Pinot Meunier is known for its adaptability and resilience. Unlike Pinot Noir, which can be notoriously difficult to grow, Pinot Meunier is less prone to diseases and can thrive in a variety of soil types. It buds later than Pinot Noir, which helps it avoid damage from late spring frosts, and it ripens earlier, ensuring it matures fully in cooler climates.

In terms of flavour profile, Pinot Meunier brings a unique set of characteristics to the table. It typically imparts fresh, fruity notes with a vibrant acidity. Common flavor descriptors include red fruit such as cherry and raspberry, along with hints of spice and floral undertones. These attributes make it an excellent component in sparkling wines, adding brightness and a youthful fruitiness.

Pinot Meunier in Winemaking

Pinot Meunier’s most notable contribution is to the production of Champagne-style sparkling wines. It is often blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to create a balanced and complex sparkling wine. While Chardonnay brings elegance and finesse, and Pinot Noir contributes structure and depth, Pinot Meunier adds fruitiness and approachability, making the final product more vibrant and accessible.

Beyond Champagne-style bubbles, Pinot Meunier is also used in the production of still wines. While still relatively rare, Meunier-based wines are gaining popularity, especially among wine enthusiasts seeking something different. These wines often exhibit a fresh, lively character with pronounced red fruit flavours and a silky texture.

The Future of Pinot Meunier

In recent years, there has been a growing appreciation for Pinot Meunier. Winemakers are beginning to explore its potential beyond traditional sparkling wines, experimenting with single-varietal Meunier wines that showcase its unique qualities. As climate change impacts viticulture, Pinot Meunier’s resilience and adaptability make it an increasingly valuable grape for winemakers around the world.

Wine enthusiasts are also starting to recognize the charm of Pinot Meunier. Its approachable and fruit-forward profile makes it an excellent choice for those new to wine, while its complexity and versatility can intrigue even the most seasoned connoisseurs.


Pinot Meunier may not yet have the fame of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, but its contributions to the world of wine are undeniable. From its crucial role in Champagne and wines from Kent to its potential as a single-varietal wine, Pinot Meunier is a grape worth celebrating. As winemakers and wine lovers continue to explore and appreciate its unique qualities, Pinot Meunier is poised to gain the recognition it rightfully deserves. So, the next time you raise a glass of Champagne or English Sparkling Wine like Silverhand or Silver Reign, take a moment to savour the vibrant fruitiness and charm of Pinot Meunier – a grape that truly deserves its place in the spotlight.