Pinot meunier

From Academic Kids

Pinot Meunier, also known as Schwarzriesling or Müllerebe, is a variety of black wine grape most frequently used in the production of Champagne.

It is a mutation1 of Pinot Noir and gets its name (Meunier - meaning miller) from flour-like dusty white down on the underside of its leaves. Paul K. Boss and Mark R. Thomas of the CSIRO Plant Industry and Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture in Glen Osmond, Australia, found that the Meunier strain has a mutated gene that stops it from responding to gibberellic acid, a plant growth hormone. This leads to different leaf growth, and also to a slight stunting in growth, explaining why Pinot Meunier plants tend to be a bit smaller than pinot noirs.

It is one of the three main grapes used in the production of Champagne (the other two are the black Pinot Noir and the white Chardonnay). Until recently Champagne makers did not acknowledge Pinot Meunier, preferring to emphasise the use of the other noble varieties but now Pinot Meunier is gaining recognition for the body and richness it contributes to Champagne.

It has the great advantage in Champagne of budding late and ripening early, thus avoiding frost in spring and rain in autumn.

Sparkling wine makers in other areas have planted Pinot Meunier in an attempt to duplicate the taste of Champagne, but Pinot Meunier is not often found as a varietal.

It can make an enjoyable dry red wine, like a more fruity and rustic Pinot Noir. Germany also makes an off-dry (halbtrocken) inexpensive red wine from it, under its synonym Schwarzriesling.

References

Note 1: Paul K. Boss and Mark R. Thomas (Nature, 25 April 2002) fr:Meunier (cépage)

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