The name Meunier comes from the French for “miller,” due to the fact that the vine leaves have a fine, white down on them, that makes them look like they have been dusted with flour. Although capable of producing varietal wines, Meunier is perhaps most famous as one of the three permitted varieties that go into Champagne blends – the other two being Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact, despite its importance to the Champagne region, it is rarely seen in France as a single varietal wine.
However, in Australia, a number of producers are beginning to make Meunier into a varietal wine. Cooler regions such as the Yarra Valley and the Grampians in Western Victoria have some of the oldest planted Pinot Meunier in the world. Here it is not only used for Champagne-style sparkling blends, but also made into light-bodied reds that are somewhat similar to Pinot Noir. The classic profile of Meunier is one of ripe red berry and cherry characters, with low tannins and moderate acidity. Rather than following in Pinot Noir’s earthy, forest floor footsteps, Meunier tends to have a slightly smoky, savoury edge which makes it a great match for barbequed meats.
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