Pinot Meunier grapes
Pinot Meunier, also known as Meunier in French and Scwarzriesling in German, is a unique black grape variety that has been under cultivation since the middle ages, in the Champagne region of France and is considered to be one of the three main grape varieties to be used for in the production of Champagne.
Having lost some of its popularity in lieu of other noble varieties, Pinot Meunier has again started to gain attention considering the rich flavors it adds in champagnes, as has been noticed by a few ampelographers.
Historically, the grape found its first beginnings in the 16th century with some records of German origin naming the grape. It has several similar synonyms like Meunier in French and Muller in German, both meaning ‘miller’. In fact, the Pinot Meunier is a cross of the Pinot Noir and Meunier – a chimeric mutation.
Some of its unique mutations give it a shorter, and rather a stunted shoot as compared to other grapes and we’ll be discussing on this in the next subsection.
Pinot Meunier is also one of the most widely planted grapes in France and yet is hardly found to possess branded labels, meaning that its mostly used as blending grape, although its blending properties give wines extremely fine flavors that have resulted in them gaining popularity around the world.
Although the Pinot Meunieris a cornerstone grape, it is still a acclaimed variety for developing champagnes.
The Pinot Meunier’s genetic relationship with other grapes is still a mystery and further research will need to be conducted to establish facts on its genetic history.
Some geneticists, like Ferdinand Regner, state that the grape is a parent of Pinot Noir, although this claim lies unproved and additional citations are required here.
If that could be true, then Pinot Meunier would immensely gain popularity as Pinot Noir itself is a top ranking grape consumed worldwide.
There is another candidate to the list of genetically acclaimed relationships for Pinot Meunieur, according to several other claims and additional genetic studies.
The Wrotham Pinot, an English version of Pinot Noir and an uncommon grape from England, shares some uncanny resemblance to the Pinot Meunier in terms of physical characteristics of the shoot, the white hair on the vine leaves, and so on.
However, professional winemakers also reject this with some even questioning the claim’s credibility based on simple physical resemblances, since the Wrotham Pinot produces sugary grapes and has different ripening periods.
Pinot Meunier has some peculiar characteristics that are markedly different from its other grape relatives.
Any Pinot Meunier vine can actually be characterized through its strange leaves that have a whitish layer to them, often described by winemakers as being dusted with flour on both sides (and hence the reason why it’s known to be Meunier and Muller, both meaning ‘miller’).
Strangely, some vines have also been observed to possess purely green leaves with little to no whitish hair.
Certain other strange phenomena have also been observed in regards to its vine structure and growth.
Two geneticists, Paul Boss and Mark Thomas, two viticulture researchers from Australia have been able to find out some mutations unique to this grape that stop its natural growth and diminishes its reaction to gibberellic acid, a growth hormone.
This result in a shorter growth of the vine that many cultivators are ‘stunted’ growth.
This mutation is the VvGAI1 mutation in its genetic structure that causes these characteristics, including the white leaves and different shoot growth.
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Viticulture and winemaking
Pinot Meunier is a fairly early ripening grape, mostly budding around the months of September and two weeks before Pinot Noir.
It’s a black grape, but is primarily used to produce champagnes that are light colored and translucent.
The grape requires cooler climates, with somewhat wet soil types, mostly found in northern France, bordering Germany where its mostly grown.
Nearly 40% of the plantings in the Champagne province are Pinot Meunier plantations, notifying to the reader how important the grape is towards champagne production.
The grape produces light colored wines with slightly acidic and sugar content that combines fine, fruity aromas to it.
Champagnes are a widely popular beverage and have mild alcoholic flavors.
Pinot Meunier is, accordingly used to produce one of the best champagnes and light colored wines of France that go well with almost all of French food.
This can also be paired up with Mediterranean or even the light tasting pastas and cheeses of Italy.
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