For Love of Pinot Meunier
Last year I celebrated 12 Days of Christmas by enjoying a different 100% Pinot Meunier every day for 12 days. It was wonderful. Pinot Meunier is the grape that made me irretrievably fall in love with wine. Burgundy and Tuscan Sangiovese were the two wines that had made me start paying attention to wine, but it was Pinot Meunier that ruined me for life.
It’s no small thing that Pinot Meunier won my heart. Though it is widely planted through Champagne, it is actually quite uncommon to find a 100% Pinot Meunier bottling anywhere sparkling or still. So for me to happen upon a still red Pinot Meunier by Eyrie Vineyards rather accidentally early in my wine education is surprising.
Though claims have long been made that the variety doesn’t age, the truth is Pinot Meunier can age wonderfully. I’ve been lucky enough to taste examples of still red Pinot Meunier from as far back as the 1970s that not only held up but developed a sultry earthiness in that delicate frame I couldn’t get enough of.
There has also often been talk of the variety lacking finesse for sparkling wines but, again, with the right vintners that couldn’t be further from the truth. My very favorite examples have been extra brut or no dosage. The fleshiness of the grape seems to do well without added sugar. That said, there are some delicious examples of brut sparkling Pinot Meunier as well. Egly Ouriet brut “Les Vigney des Vrigny” was the first sparkling example I ever tasted years ago and it’s definitely recommended.
Visions from Instagram
Over on Instagram I share photos with explanatory captions when I’m on wine trips or working on detailed projects, like the 12 Days of Pinot Meunier. With the wine trips especially the collection of photos from a particular wine region tend to go fairly in depth and all together share the story of a region.
I’ve been asked by several of my readers if I’d be willing to gather some of these photo sets from Instagram and share them here so that the information is more readily accessible. Over the next several months in the New Year, then, I’ll be posting some of those regional collections here alongside more in-depth features on producers from those regions.
Several people also asked if I’d please share my holiday with Pinot Meunier from Instagram here. With that in mind, here is the collection captured from Instagram in screen shots. Thank you for asking, and enjoy!
12 Days of Pinot Meunier
Day 1: The Eyrie Vineyards 1996 Pinot Meunier
Day 2: La Closerie Les Beguines (2009)
The 12 Days of (Pinot Meunier) Christmas, Day 2: Prevost La Closerie Les Beguines. YES YES YES. Some wines remind you what a complete privilege it is to receive. So excited, grateful + INTO IT. (I made the stupid mistake in describing the wine to Jr of explaining what “Extra Brut” means, to which she reminded me politely she already knows. I swear the girl could teach a class.)
Day 3: Lelarge Pugeot Les Meuniers de Clemence (2010)
Day 3 of a Pinot Meunier Christmas: the first all PM bottling from the Lelarge family. Lelarge-Pugeot Les Meuniers de Clemence, 2010. Almond leaf + pear on the nose carrying forward alongside hints of lime + cherry on the palate w a bit of ruddiness + lots of mouthwatering acidity moving into an ultra long finish. Shows the ruddiness of clay w the amplitude of chalk. Thanks for your help, Mr Michael Storyteller Alberty.
Day 4: Breech et Fils Vallée de la Marne (2009)
12 Days of Pinot Meunier Christmas Day 4: Bereche et Fils Valle de la Marne, 2009 vintage. Beautifully delicate almond nose w hints of pear carries forward into super mouthwatering, screaming fresh acidity w a giving midpalate + decades of length. Warms into further breadth w still loads of precision. Thank you, @ambonnaybar , for helping me locate this wine.
Day 5: Chartogne-Taillet Les Barres (2009)
Pinot Meunier Christmas Day 5: Chartogne-Taillet Les Barres, 2009 – ungrafted old vines, small older barrels 60 months on lees. Aromatics of dried pear, leaf + red cherry pit carry forward into the palate alongside toasted almond and rolling acidity w a finish till tomorrow. Nice textural presence + a classic PM fleshiness. Warms into greater breadth + almond. (Don’t tell but I’m about to drink it w instant ramen. Whoo! It’s the holidays!) Thank you to Jesse Salazar + Gabriel Clary for helping me track this down.
Day 6: Best’s Great Western 2012 Old Vine Pinot Meunier
Pinot Meunier Christmas Day 6: Best’s Great Western 2012 Old Vine. Some of the oldest PM vines on the planet. Established 1867 + still producing. Concentrated rhubarb + red berry earthiness w bright balanced acidity + saline mouth watering length. Wants lots of air. Great open into day 2. @bestswines
Day 7: Christophe Mignon 2008 Brut Nature
Day 8: Teutonic 2013 Borgo Pass Vineyard
Pinot Meunier Christmas Day 8: Teutonic 2013 Borgo Pass Vineyard (named for the gateway to Castle Dracula, Romania). Southern point of Willamette Valley, as far West as you can get in WV + as cool, to the edge of ripening. 30 yr old vines. Smells of cherry blossom + lilac cream. Pin tight focus, almost as light as rosé, singing acidity, palate of ferric red fruit, wolf’s hair + Veronica Lake in a silk dress. Makes me wanna wiggle till I stand up to dance. Thx to Mr Alberty for helping me secure a bottle. @olgateutonicwines
Day 9: Vineland 2011 Pinot Meunier
Pinot Meunier Christmas Day 9: Vineland 2011 from Niagra Escarpment, Ontario, Canada. Grown in the Great Lakes cooling effect w good drainage. All about spice, red fruit + gulpability this wine comes a little chunky + weighty for the subtlety the grape can offer. Still a fun find out of Canada + a value.
Day 10: Darting 2012 Pinot Meunier Trocken; Heitlinger 2009 Blanc de Noir Brut
Pinot Meunier Christmas Day 10: German bifocal– sparkling + still: Heitlinger Sekt Blanc de Noir 2009. Almond + cherry blossom + hints of melon aromatics followed by ultratight palate + giving length. Darting 2012 Dry from Pfalz. Fresh picked cherries on a hot day + served w toast w juicier all warm red cherry palate, savory mineral accents + finish.
Day 11: René Geoffroy 2008 Cumières Rouge Coteaux Champenois.
Pinot Meunier Christmas Day 11: Rowr! Hello, lover. René Geoffroy 2008 Cumières Rouge Coteaux Champenois. Delicate aromatics of chalky cherry blossom + musk. A tiger on the palate — all enthralling striped complexity, muscled minerality, mouth watering acidity + endless length. Flashes of red fruit framed in lean chalky sweat minerality.
Day 12: Lahore Freres Blanc de Noirs 2009 + Rosé de Saignée w Eyrie 2012 Pinot Meunier
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I also received numerous requests to get Hawk Wakawaka t-shirts back in stock over at my shop. So, Pho t-shirts and Pinot Noir t-shirts are now both available in a range of sizes, as are my biodynamics posters and Corison 25-yr Vertical art prints. Here’s the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HawkWakawaka
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A correction to your description of Borgo Pass Vineyard, source for the Pinot Meunier grapes used in the Teutonic wine.
Borgo Pass is not located “as far West as you can get in Willamette Valley + as cool, to the edge of ripening”. Some of Teutonic’s grape sources are in the valleys west of Borgo Pass near Alsea – and your description matches that area. But Borgo Pass Vineyard is outside Alpine, Oregon, on the far east side of the coastal range, in an area called a “Banana Belt”. The rain shadow of Green Peak Mountain and a steep south east facing slope make the vineyard warmer than others nearby and Mark can even grow Cabernet to ripeness.
I live just down the road and have walked the vineyard with my dogs for 30 years. I’ll send you a photo if you like.
Hi Jean, Thanks for your comment! I love getting more specific like this. Alsea sits outside the Willamette Valley boundary to the West, whereas Borgo Pass sits relatively close to the Western edge just inside the appellation boundary. So, it is almost as far West as you can go within the AVA. Looking at Borgo Pass in terms of growing degree days it is cooler than much of Willamette Valley, even many of the vineyards in Eola-Amity that are known for being in the cooler part of the region. It’s certainly not as extreme as other sites West of the AVA like Alsea though. The fact that Mark can ripen Cabernet says a lot – it has to be warm enough to ripen the variety – but that he focuses primarily on Burgundian varieties and that the site offers wines that do tend to hold their acid shows it’s likely on the cooler side of what can ripen Cabernet. I look forward to talking with him at some point about the growing season of the site for the several varieties he grows. It is a spot I haven’t been able to walk yet. The region you live in is so beautiful (a favorite of mine) and I envy the life you describe spending so much time there with your dogs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the site. I’d love to see a photo, as you suggest and appreciate you for offering.
I patiently await you to set this to music. Maybe in time for the 2016 holiday season.
Perhaps we could also turn it into a dance recital? Rachel could create the video. She’s brilliant at video production + editing.
Love this post and have always been passionate about Pinot Meunier. Cheers!
Yes! Love it! Cheers to you too!
Seek out the Moussé Special Club champagne … the only member of the Special Club to make a 100% Pinot Meunier. Awesome stuff.
Thanks, Jason. Yes, I have had it and thought the wine was lovely. It’s hard to find here in the US (though most of the wines in the 12-days collection are) but it is worth seeking out.