- Vine variety information
Other names: the name Meunier (French for miller) comes from the flour-like dusty white down on its
leaves. In France it is also known as Farineux noir;
in Germany: Müllerrebe, Schwarzriesling or Müller-Traube;
in Austria: Blaue Postitschtraube (Steiermark);
in Hungary: Molnar toké kék;
in Italy: Morone farinaccio, Mopone;
in Croatia: Rana modra mlinaria;
in Czechoslovakia: Moucnik;
in Australia: Miller's Burgundy;
in UK: Dusty Miller;
and various other synonyms across the globe including Auvernat Meunier, Blanc Meunier, Blanche Feuille, Carpinet,
Cerny Mancujk, Créedinet, Fernaise, Frésillon, Fromenté, Frühe blaue Müllerrebe, Goujeau, Gris Meunier,
Meunier Gris, Miller Grape, Molnarszölö, Morillon Taconé, Noirin Enfariné, Noirien de Vuillapans,
Pineau Meunier, Pino Meine, Plant de Brie, Plant Meunier,
Plant Munier, Resseau, Riesling Noir, Sarpinet, Trézillon.
Country of origin: France
It was first documented in the 1500s. During the 19th century, Pinot Meunier was widely planted
throughout northern France, especially in the Paris basin. It was found across the northern half of country from the
Loire Valley to Lorraine.
In the early 1990s, research conducted by plant geneticist Carole
Meredith at the University of California at Davis revealed a
common heritage between Pinot Meunier and a number of other grape
varieties indigenous to northern France. Based on DNA
fingerprinting, she concluded that an original 'Pinot' prototype and
an obscure vine called Gouais Blanc are the parents of Pinot
Meunier and fifteen other Gallic varieties, including Chardonnay
and Pinot noir.
Others believe that Pinot Meunier is a mutation of Pinot noir.
The CSIRO Plant Industry and Cooperative
Research Centre for Viticulture in Glen Osmond, Australia,
found that the Meunier strain has a mutated gene (VvGAI1) that stops it from
responding to gibberellic acid, a plant hormone sometimes used as a
growth regulator. This gene leads to different leaf growth (and hairy shoot
tips) and also to a slight
stunting in growth, explaining why Pinot Meunier plants tend to be a
little smaller than Pinot noir.
So it appears that Pinot Meunier is a Pinot noir with a mutation in one cell
layer, the L1 layer of the epidermis, making Pinot Meunier a
'chimera'; the other tissue layer is identical to Pinot noir. As such, Pinot
Meunier cannot be the parent of Pinot noir.
Year of breeding: one of the oldest varieties
Breeder/License holder: clone producers
Number of clones: some clones have been found to be completely hairless.
Year of entry into the German Federal Office's Varieties Register:
Samtrot is a registered mutation.
Area planted in France: 10,000 hectares 1,795 hectares in Württemberg, also in
Rheinpfalz and Franconia.
Area planted in Germany in 2006: 2,424 hectares:
Area planted in England:
Wine Character - colour:
- palate: fruity, supple, good balance of alcohol and acidity, harmonious.
Best known as one of the three main grape varieties used in the production of Champagne.
It covers 39% of the total Champagne area; 42% of la Marne, 80% of l'Aisne, 8% of l'Aube.
Until recently the Champenois did not acknowledge Pinot Meunier, preferring to emphasise the
use of Pinot noir and Chardonnay, but recently Pinot Meunier has gained
recognition for the body and richness it contributes to the wines, as
well as the higher yield it provides.
It is almost always blended, and contributes aromatics and fruity
flavours to the wine. Champagnes with a substantial
proportion of Pinot Meunier tend not to have as much ageing potential as
wines that are composed primarily of Chardonnay or Pinot noir.
It is therefore most commonly used for Champagnes that are intended to
be consumed young, when the soft, plushy fruit of the Pinot Meunier is
at its peak. A notable exception is the Champagne house of Krug
which makes liberal use of Pinot Meunier in its long-lived prestige cuvées.
In France, outside of Champagne, there are dwindling areas in the Loire Valley regions of
Touraine and Orleans, as well as the Cotes de Toul and Moselle regions. In these regions Pinot Meunier is used to make bright,
fresh, fruity, light-bodied reds and rosés; these wines usually fall into the 'vin gris' style,
characterized by their pale pink color and distinctive smokey notes.
As varietal still wines they do not age well, and do not meet the standards for
Pinot Meunier can make enjoyable dry red wines, fruity and rustic. In Germany,
under its synonym Schwarzriesling, the style of reds ranges from simple, light, off-dry
(halbtrocken) to rich, dry with substantial flavours. In Württemberg it is used to make a local speciality known as
Schillerwein which is characterized by it light pink color, smokey notes and
slightly higher acidity than wines made from Pinot noir.
In California, American sparkling wine producers wishing to emulate Champagnes began planting Pinot Meunier in the 1980s.
Today most of the state's plantings are located in the Carneros district. In the blend of
these classically styled sparkling wines, Pinot Meunier primarily contributes fruitiness to the cuvée.
It has recently become popular to use Schwarzriesling in the production sparkling
wine, often not blended with its Champagne partners but as pure Schwarzriesling 'Sekt'.
In Australia, the grape has had a longer history than Pinot noir. In the Grampians region of Victoria,
Pinot Meunier was known at one time as Miller's Burgundy and
used to make still red wine. In the late 20th century plantings were starting to decline
until a revival of Champagne-style sparkling wine took hold in the
2000s which created renewed interest in Pinot Meunier.
The New Zealand wine industry has recently discovered Pinot Meunier for
both still and sparkling wine. As a varietal red wine, Pinot Meunier tends to
produce slightly jammy, fruity wines with moderate acidity and low tannins.
photo from www.weingut-fuchs.de
Time of bud-burst: middle to late, several days later than Pinot noir; hence can avoid late spring frosts
Shoot-tip: open, white-wooly
Strength of growth: medium
Growth of side-shoots: medium
Leaf: - size: medium-large
- shape: 5 lobed, saw-like edge
- petiolar sinus: V-form, slightly closed
- surface undulation: thick white
hairs on underside
Flowering time: late
Flowering strength: high, relatively little coulure
Grape bunch: - size: medium
- density: tight,
hence susceptible to rot
Berries: - size: small to medium
- shape: round to slightly oval
- skin colour: blue-black, low in tannin,
Time of veraison: middle-late
Time of harvest:
Grape yield: medium
Must-acidity: quite high
Wood ripening: good
Winter hardiness: good
Wood colour: grey-brown
Susceptibility to - Oidium:
- Roter Brenner:
Preferred soil: rich and fertile, calcarious
Suitable rootstocks: SO4, Binova or 5C, or 125AA in strong-growing soil
Normal stem height:
Normal row spacing:
Vine spacing in the row:
eyes/buds per sq. metre of land occupied by the plant.