The many talents of the Pinot Meunier grape
Pinot Meunier is an amazing grape, and it should be recognized for its many amazing talents. Pinot Meunier was overlooked by many in Champagne who focused their attention on the well known Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes to deliver their sparkling goodness. However more recently Champagne growers and those who follow the traditional method of making sparkling wine are going back to Pinot Meunier as part of their mixes to bring out a livelier wine. Oh, and did we mention Pinot Meunier also makes a killer red wine? Yeh, this grape is ready to blow up as a grape that has many talents.
Pinot Meunier in Champagne and Other Traditional Method Sparkling Wine
Pinot Meunier is considered to be part of the three traditional grape varieties allowed in Champagne. Though many of us focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir because we know a lot more about these grapes, Pinot Meunier has been a silent hero all along, in fact the grape accounts for 32% of what is grow in the Champagne region, slightly more than Chardonnay's 30%.
The awesome part of having Pinot Meunier in the blend of Champagne is that it adds both savory and fruity flavors to the wine. You get spices, herbs, flowers, and fruits that you would not otherwise get with a two grape blend. Pinot Meunier adds a little extra complexity to Champagne, while also making it a lot more fun. Some growers are even focusing their efforts on Pinot Meunier because they feel it deserves so much more attention.
Pinot Meunier as a Still Red Wine
Pinot Meunier as a red wine is a whole other experience for a light body red wine. You get the same sexy feeling of a light body red wine that you would get from a Pinot Noir, Gamay, or Etna Rosso, but instead of a mouthful of fruit you get some seriously earthy, spicy, and herbal notes. Pinot Meunier is like Magneto to Pinot Noir's Professor X. Driven by similar goals, but with darker, and more complex means of getting there. You may not be sure of Pinot Meunier is a good guy here, but there is something appealing about this amazing red wine that will make you feel very happy.
The problem with Pinot Meunier red wine is that it can be very hard to find. It gets spoken about in the wine world as if it is some dark secret that should not be spoken of, as if we are breaking the rules. There are a few places that carry Pinot Meunier red wines, but its always an experiment that gets lost because people do not know too much about the grape. Domain Chandon, the Teutonic Wine Company, and Matthiasson all make exceptional single varietal Pinot Meunier red wines.
I say fuck it, break the rules and lets celebrate Pinot Meunier for the amazing grape that it is. Whether adding character to traditional sparkling wines, or crushing it as its own single varietal red, Pinot Meunier could be that wine that breaks your love affair with Pinot Noir.