Winegrowers Supplies -  Vine variety information

Pinot Meunier

Other names: In France it is known as Meunier (or Meunier N); French for miller, 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.

Mother: unknown
Father: unknown

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.

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. 14 clones are registered in France.
Year of entry into the German Federal Office's Varieties Register: 
    Samtrot is a registered mutation.

Area planted in France: 10,000 hectares
Area planted in Germany in 2006: 2,424 hectares:
1,795 hectares in Württemberg, also in Rheinpfalz and Franconia.
Area planted in England: 

Wine Character - colour: 
                      - bouquet: 
                      - 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 Appellation Controllée.

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.
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 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.

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.

       Schwarzriesling, Pinot Meunier  photo from

Time of bud-burst: middle to late, several days later than Pinot Noir; hence can avoid late spring frosts

Shoot-tip: open, white-wooly, with a very dense coat of flat-lying hairs
Strength of growth: medium
Growth of side-shoots: medium; tends to grow a lot of water shoots

Leaf: - size: medium-large                            - shape: 5 lobed, saw-like edge, deep lateral sinuses and frequently a tooth at the bottom
        - colour: green                                        - petiolar sinus: V-form, slightly open
        - surface undulation: upper side with a low to moderate coat of flat-lying hairs and the underside with a moderate coat of flat-lying hairs

Flowering time: late
Flowering strength: high, relatively little coulure

Grape bunch: - size: small to medium                        - density: tight, hence susceptible to rot
Berries:        - size: small to medium            - shape: round to slightly oval
                   - skin colour: blue-black, low in tannin, medium colour

Time of veraison: middle-late
Time of harvest: 

Grape yield: medium
Must-acidity: quite high; used especially for making sparkling wine and for producing moderately acidic wines which evolve quickly

Wood ripening: good
Winter hardiness: good
Wood colour: grey-brown

Chlorosis resistance: high
Susceptibility to - Oidium: low                           - Peronospora: low
                       - Botrytis: susceptible to grey rot             - Roter Brenner: 
                       - Phomopsis: low                           - Stem-atrophy: 

Preferred soil: rich and fertile, calcarious (limestone)
Suitable rootstocks: SO4, Binova or 5C, or 125AA in strong-growing soil

Normal stem height: 
Normal row spacing: 
Vine spacing in the row: 

Winter Pruning:       eyes/buds per sq. metre of land occupied by the plant.