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by Fred McMillin
for January 29, 1998
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.)
Postscript—The Name Game:
Read more articles by Fred McMillin in the WineDay Annex
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