Champagne’s Meunier no second-rate grape

Pinot Meunier is much more than the workhorse grape in Champagne.

In the right sites and with careful management, the grape can be used to make fine and ageworthy wines according to Michael Edwards, writing in the October edition of the drinks business.

He points out that Krug 1981 – “one of the greatest Champagnes of the 20th century” – had as much as 19% of Pinot Meunier in the blend, and recalls tasting “a superb” 1985 Meunier at De Telmont, last spring.

Analysing the grape’s characteristics, Edwards suggests Pinot Meunier may be closer to Chardonnay in its taste and that the red grape would be better understood if it’s called Meunier, without the Pinot prefix.

Site selection is of course key to Meunier’s quality, and Edwards stresses the need for the best plots in the Marne Valley, picking out Damery, Châtillon-sur-Marne and Sainte Gemme – the latter used by Krug.

Further, following a previous piece on this website proclaiming that the Champagne region may be getting too warm for Meunier, Edwards records that Olivier Krug favours the grape when grown on the south-facing Sainte Gemme cru in very warm and dry years.

Finally, Edwards stresses the economic importance of Meunier to Champagne: the grape accounts for 61.29% of all productive vines in the Marne Valley, 33.21% of those on the Montagne de Reims, and nearly a third of total plantings across Champagne Viticole.

For the full article on Pinot Meunier, including the best soil types for the grape and favoured clones, see the October edition of the drinks business. Click here for subscription options

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