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The Meunier Makeover

A grape with a long and sometimes troubled history, Pinot Meunier is enjoying popularity once again – not just in its traditional homeland of Champagne, but in the vineyards of England and America’s west coast, as well. Alice Lascelles finds out more.

Stripped of their grapes, vines can be hard to tell apart. But there is one variety whose silvery-grey leaves are instantly recognisable, and that is Pinot Meunier.

Named after the French word for ‘miller’, on account of the floury-looking down that adorns each leaf, this distinctive vine was once the most widely planted in the Champagne appellation. Later budding (and therefore more frost resistant) than Pinot Noir, and also higher yielding, it was prized for being a dependable workhorse, well suited to the cooler climes of northern France, and particularly the frost-prone vineyards of Champagne’s Marne Valley.


Lascelles’ pick: 10 top Pinot Meunier wines

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