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Facts on Pinot Meunier

Pinot Meunier {pee-no moo-nee-yay} has the patience of a saint. For years it has worked behind the scenes, playing the support role to other varieties that receive all the glory and accolades. It is an important part of the recipe for some of the most noted Champagne names in the world – Moët, Verve, anyone? Not that you would have known – quite possibly. Pinot Meunier has just been waiting. Waiting for us to discover how delicious, engaging and easy to drink it can be.

 

IN FRANCE

Pinot Meunier is one of the three most common (there are seven legally allowed) varieties used in the world famous wines of Champagne. It is considered the lesser of these three, however, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir much more revered. Pinot Meunier is somewhat of a workhorse in Champagne. It is planted in the cooler areas as it shows better cold-weather resistance than Pinot Noir and buds later and ripens earlier. It brings a fruit intensity and a roundness to the Champagne blend. However, Pinot Meunier does not age as well as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and as a result, you will generally find it as an ingredient in non-vintage rather than vintage Champagne.

 

IN AUSTRALIA

Pinot Meunier has lived an incognito life here in Australia. Best’s in Victoria have plantings that date back to 1868, but most of us, until recently perhaps, would only have tried it as part of the ‘Champagne’ style produced by some of our sparkling wine houses. Australians’ growing thirst for and interest in lighter bodied and fresher styles of red wines has led to a number of dry red wines being produced from Pinot Meunier. It makes sense that the best regions in the country for the dry style of Meunier also happen to be some of the best Australia sparkling regions. Best’s Old Vine Pinot Meunier is the most famous Australian example, but look for other examples from the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and Tumbarumba, amongst others. 

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Pinot Meunier is a clonal mutation of Pinot Noir, so it shares the same DNA. The name Meunier is French for ‘miller’, which was used to describe the ‘floury’ appearance of the underside of the vine’s leaves.

 

CHARACTERS

A Pinot Meunier red wine is typically lighter in colour and body than Pinot Noir, but its acid levels are slightly higher. It shares the same aroma and flavour characters as Pinot Noir – red cherry, cranberry, 5 spice and leaf litter – occasionally showing slightly smoky flavours.

 

FOOD MATCH

Pinot Meunier can be a great match with richer flavoured fish, such as tuna and salmon. It has a natural affinity with pork and duck and can also work with the spice of Middle Eastern foods. 

Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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