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by Fred McMillin
for January 29, 1998

Pinot Meunier

Prologue: Pinot Meunier is the Champagne district's most widely planted grape, with acreage far exceeding that of Pinot Noir and of Chardonnay.

...the Oxford Companion to Wine

The Rest of the Story: Pinot Meunier (muh-nyay) is not exactly a household name. It is a light red grape that adds youthful fruitiness to French Champagne. While there are over 27,000 acres in France, the last figure I saw for California was under 300!

Nevertheless, in our classes we can detect Meunier's contribution by sipping Chandon's Blanc de Noirs. The current 393 Cuvee is 19% Meunier with 81% Pinot Noir. A little careful sipping and you can find what Winemaker Dawnine Dyer draws out of Meunier, an exciting mix of cloves and freshly baked bread. (Your wine shop can suggest for contrast a sparkler with little or no Meunier, such as a Chandon Brut with only a tad of Meunier.)

The Wine:
Carneros Blanc de Noirs 393, Appellation—Carneros
Domaine Chandon, Yountville, CA
Grapes—19% Pinot Meunier, 81% Pinot Noir
Food Affinities—Typical sparkler flexibility, ranging from Cajun catfish to smoked lamb.
Contact—Jean Jacote (707) 944-8844
Flavor Secret—Aged 30 months on the yeast.
Price—Happily, only $15.

Postscript—The Name Game:
Blanc de Noirs—French: "white wine from black grapes"
Cuvee 393—Made chiefly from the 1993 vintage
Meunier—The underside of Pinot Meunier leaves are powdery white, as if covered with flour. The French word for "miller" is "meunier."


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the WineDay Annex

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