Pinot Meunier is a mutation of Pinot Noir. It has less body, pigments and tannins but more acidity and fruit than Pinot Noir. The Pinot Meunier grape is well-suited to cool climates and is not especially susceptible to frost.
There are approximately 400 acres of Pinot Meunier planted in California. Most of these vineyards are in Carneros and the Russian River Valley. Several California sparkling wine producers, including Domaine Chandon and Mumm Cuvee Napa use the grape in blends. Domaine Chandon and Mumm both make blends with the varietal.
Also known as simply, “Meunier,” Pinot Meunier is the third grape used in Champagne.
It ripens early in the growing season, making it a reliable grape in Champagne’s marginal climate. However, few of the top Champagnes have a significant amount of the Pinot Meunier varietal in them.
Pinot Meunier forms the backbone of many mid-range sparkling wines from the region. It is also grown in the Loire and Germany. Some of this production is used for very light-bodied, still wines. They are enjoyed for their youthful, fruit flavors.