Pinot Meunier or Meunier is a red grape that may not be well known to you, but it should. This French grape is most famously one of the three most common grapes permitted to be used to make Champagne, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, there are in fact seven. But it can be used in other ways too.
In Australia we used Meunier in our sparkling wines, as they do in Champagne, but more and more we are using it to make dry red wines. Meunier is genetically very closely related to Pinot Noir, so the wines it makes are very similar in style. Light to medium bodied with cranberry, cherry and raspberry fruit. Meunier is often higher in acidity and can have a smokey character too. Meunier ripens a little earlier than Pinot Noir, which can really help in cooler vineyard locations in years when the weather is not helpful.
Best’s in Great Western, Victoria have plantings that date back to 1868. This is a real treasure and a living piece of Australian history. More recently Meunier has started to be planted more and more and in a larger variety of locations. Especially high altitude alpine vineyards such as those found around us here at Tumbarumba or Whitlands. We are also seeing fantastic results coming out of Tasmania which is very exciting.