Pinot meunier
Pinot Meunier, mø.nje, also known as Meunier or Black Riesling, is a variety of black wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

 most noted for being one of the three main grapes used in the production of champagne (the other two are the black Pinot noir
Pinot Noir
Pinot noir is a black wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot noir grapes...

 and the white Chardonnay
Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It is originated from the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand...

). 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 is believed to be a mutation of Pinot noir. It was first mentioned in the 16th century, and gets its name and synonyms (French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 meunier and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Müller - both meaning miller
A miller usually refers to a person who operates a mill, a machine to grind a cereal crop to make flour. Milling is among the oldest of human occupations. "Miller", "Milne" and other variants are common surnames, as are their equivalents in other languages around the world...

) from flour-like dusty white down on the underside of its leaves.


Pinot Meunier can be identified by ampelographers by its indented leaves that appear downy white, like flour
Flour is a powder which is made by grinding cereal grains, other seeds or roots . It is the main ingredient of bread, which is a staple food for many cultures, making the availability of adequate supplies of flour a major economic and political issue at various times throughout history...

 has been dusted on the underside of the leaf. The name "Meunier" comes from the French word for miller
A miller usually refers to a person who operates a mill, a machine to grind a cereal crop to make flour. Milling is among the oldest of human occupations. "Miller", "Milne" and other variants are common surnames, as are their equivalents in other languages around the world...

 with many of the grapevine's synonyms (see below) also hearkening to this association-such as "Dusty Miller" which is used in England, "Farineux" and "Noirin Enfariné" used in France as well as "Müllerrebe" and "Müller-Traube" used in Germany. This characteristics derives from fine white hairs on the underside of the leaves. However, some clones
Clones is a small town in western County Monaghan, in the 'border area' of the Republic of Ireland. The area is part of the Border Region, earmarked for economic development by the Irish Government due to its currently below-average economic situation...

 of Pinot Meunier have been found to be completely hairless which has led ampelographers to more closely draw a link between Meunier and Pinot noir.

Paul K. Boss and Mark R. Thomas of the CSIRO Plant Industry and Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture in Glen Osmond, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, found that the meunier strain has a mutation (VvGAI1) that stops it from responding to gibberellic acid
Gibberellins are plant hormones that regulate growth and influence various developmental processes, including stem elongation, germination, dormancy, flowering, sex expression, enzyme induction, and leaf and fruit senescence....

, a plant growth hormone
Growth hormone
Growth hormone is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals. Growth hormone is a 191-amino acid, single-chain polypeptide that is synthesized, stored, and secreted by the somatotroph cells within the lateral wings of the anterior...

. 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. The mutation exist only in one cell layer of the cultivar, the L1 layer of the epidermis, making Pinot Meunier a chimera
Chimera (plant)
Chimeras in botany are usually single organisms composed of two genetically different types of tissue. They occur in plants, on the same general basis as with animal chimeras...

. This makes it possible, through tissue culture, to separate out plants containing both the mutant and non-mutant genotypes, yielding a normal Pinot noir type and an unusual looking mutant vine with compressed internodes and thickly clustered leaves. The mutants could not produce full-grown tendrils, it seems that gibberellic acid converts grapevine flower buds into tendrils.

Wine regions

Pinot Meunier is one of the most widely planted grapes in France but it is rather obscure to most wine drinkers and will rarely be seen on a wine label. The grape has been favored by vine growers in northern France due to its ability to bud and ripen more reliably than Pinot noir. The vine's tendency to bud later in the growing season and ripen earlier makes it less susceptible to developing coulure
Coulure is a potential viticultural hazard that is the result of metabolic reactions to weather conditions that causes a failure of grapes to develop after flowering. In English the word shatter is sometimes used. Coulure is triggered by periods of cold, cloudy, rainy weather or very high...

 which can greatly reduce a prospective crop. For the last couple of centuries, Pinot Meunier has been the most widely planted Champagne grape, accounting for more than 40% of the region's entire plantings. It is most prevalent in the cooler, north facing vineyards of the Vallee de la Marne and in the Aisne
Aisne is a department in the northern part of France named after the Aisne River.- History :Aisne is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790. It was created from parts of the former provinces of Île-de-France, Picardie, and Champagne.Most of the old...

 department. It is also widely grown in the Aube
Aube is a department in the northeastern part of France named after the Aube River. In 1995, its population was 293,100 inhabitants.- History :Aube is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on 4 March 1790...

 region in vineyards where Pinot noir and Chardonnay would not fully ripen.

Compared to Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier produces lighter colored wines with slightly higher acid levels but can maintain similar sugar and alcohol levels. As part of a standard champagne blend, Pinot Meunier contributes aromatics and fruity flavors to the wine. Champagnes with a substantial proportion of Pinot Meunier tend not to have as much significant aging potential as champagnes 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 cuvee
Cuvée is a French wine term derived from cuve, meaning vat or tank. The term cuvée is used with several different meanings, more or less based on the concept of a tank of wine put to some purpose:...


During the 19th century, Pinot Meunier was widely planted throughout northern France, especially in the Paris basin
Paris Basin
Paris Basin may refer to:*As a hydrological basin, it is largely the basin of the River Seine* Paris Basin , the geological basin...

. It was found across the northern half of country from the Loire Valley
Loire Valley (wine)
The Loire Valley wine region includes the French wine regions situated along the Loire River from the Muscadet region near the city of Nantes on the Atlantic coast to the region of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé just southeast of the city of Orléans in north central France. In between are the regions of...

 to Lorraine
Lorraine (région)
Lorraine is one of the 27 régions of France. The administrative region has two cities of equal importance, Metz and Nancy. Metz is considered to be the official capital since that is where the regional parliament is situated...

. Today, Pinot Meunier is found outside of Champagne in dwindling quantities in the Loire Valley regions of Touraine and Orleans
Orléans AOC
Orléans is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée for wine in the Loire Valley wine region of France situated around the city of Orléans.-Contemporary History:...

 as well as the Cotes de Toul
Côtes de Toul
Côtes de Toul is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée for French wine produced in the département of Meurthe-et-Moselle in the Lorraine région. The Côtes de Toul vineyards cover in an area close to Toul, to the west of the city of Nancy...

 and Moselle regions. In these regions Pinot Meunier is used to make light bodied reds and rosé
A rosé is a type of wine that has some of the color typical of a red wine, but only enough to turn it pink. The pink color can range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques.- Production techniques :There are three major ways to produce rosé...

s. These wines most often fall into the vin gris style are characterized by their pale pink color and distinctive smokey notes.

Other regions

In Germany, Pinot Meunier is used most often to make still red wines under its synonyms Schwarzriesling, Müllerrebe and Müller-Traube. The style of those wines ranges from simple, light, off-dry (halbtrocken) to rich, dry with substantial flavors. More recently, Schwarzriesling is used also to make dry white wines with a fresh, fruity character. Most German plantings of the variety (1795 hectares (4,435.5 acre) out of 2424 hectares (5,989.8 acre), or 74%, in the year 2006) are found in Württemberg
Württemberg (wine region)
Württemberg is a region for quality wine in Germany, and is located in the historical region of Württemberg in southwestern Germany, which today forms part of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg. Under German wine legislation, Württemberg and Baden are separate wine regions.With under vine in...

. Here it is used to make a local speciality known as Schillerwein which is characterized by it light pink color, smokey noted and slightly higher acidity than wines made from Spätburgunder (Pinot noir). Some growers in Württemberg have been promoting a particular clone of Pinot Meunier that has developed in the region known as Samtrot. Pinot Meunier is also found in significant quantities in the German wine regions of Baden
Baden (wine region)
Baden is a region for quality wine in Germany, and is located in the historical region of Baden in southwestern Germany, which today forms part of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg...

, Franconia
Franconia (wine region)
Franconia is a region for quality wine in Germany situated in the north west of Bavaria in the district of Franconia, and is the only wine region in the federal state of Bavaria...

 and Palatinate
Palatinate (wine region)
Palatinate is a German wine-growing region in the area of Bad Dürkheim, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, and Landau in Rhineland-Palatinate. Before 1993, it was known as Rhine Palatinate . With under cultivation in 2008, the region is the second largest wine region in Germany after Rheinhessen...

. Despite the variety's connection with Champagne, it only recently become popular to use Schwarzriesling in the production of sparkling wines Sekt, often not blended with its Champagne partners but as pure brut Schwarzriesling "Sekt". Pinot Meunier is also grown in the German speaking parts of Switzerland and in small quantities in Austria.

In California, American sparkling wine
Sparkling wine
Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy. The carbon dioxide may result from natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the méthode champenoise, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved , or as a result of carbon dioxide...

 producers wishing to emulate the Champagne method began planting Pinot Meunier in the 1980s. Today most of the state's plantings are located in the Carneros AVA. In Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the grape has had a longer history in Australian wine
Australian wine
The Australian Wine Industry is the fourth largest exporter of wine around the world, with 760 million litres a year to a large international export market and contributes $5.5 billion per annum to the nation's economy...

 production 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 varietal
"Varietal" describes wines made primarily from a single named grape variety, and which typically displays the name of that variety on the wine label. Examples of grape varieties commonly used in varietal wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot...

 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 sparked renewed interest in Pinot Meunier. The New Zealand wine
New Zealand wine
New Zealand wine is largely produced in ten major wine growing regions spanning latitudes 36° to 45° South and extending . They are, from north to south Northland, Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury/Waipara and Central...

 industry has recently discovered Pinot Meunier for both still & sparkling wine production
Sparkling wine production
There are four main methods of sparkling wine production. The first is simple injection of carbon dioxide , the process used in soft drinks, but this produces big bubbles that dissipate quickly in the glass. The second is the Metodo Italiano – Charmat process, in which the wine undergoes a...

. As a varietal red wine, Pinot Meunier tends to produce slightly jammy, fruit wines with moderate acidity and low tannins.

Possible relationships

Ferdinand Regner has proposed that Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling) is a parent of Pinot noir but this work has not been replicated and would appear to be superseded by the Australian work.

The Wrotham Pinot is an English variety of Pinot noir that is sometimes regarded as a synonym of Pinot Meunier. The Wrotham Pinot does look somewhat similar to Meunier, with white hairs on the upper surface of the leaves. But it is particularly resistant to disease, has a higher natural sugar content and ripens two weeks earlier than Meunier.


Pinot Meunier is known under various synonyms across the globe including-Auvernat Meunier, Blanc Meunier, Blanche Feuille, Carpinet, Cerny Mancujk, Créedinet, Dusty Miller, Farineux Noir, Fernaise, Frésillon, Fromenté, Frühe blaue Müllerrebe, Goujeau, Gris Meunier, Meunier, Meunier Gris, Miller Grape, Miller's Burgundy, Molnar Toke, Molnar Toke Kek, Molnarszölö, Morillon Tacone, Morone Farinaccio, Moucnik, Müllerrebe, Muller-Traube, Noirin Enfariné, Noirien de Vuillapans, Pineau Meunier, Pino Meine, Pinot Negro, Plant de Brie, Plant Meunier, Plant Munier, Postitschtraube, Rana Modra Mlinaria, Rana Modra Mlinarica, Resseau, Riesling Noir, Sarpinet, Trézillon and Wrotham Pinot.
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