English Grapes

Pinot Meunier

Pinot Meunier is one of the three main grapes used in English Sparkling Wine. It gives fruitness and boldness in blends and is incredibly versatile. You will find it in English still red, white and rosé wines.

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Pinot Meunier is a red wine grape which is part of the Pinot family and shares the same DNA as the more commonly known Pinot Noir. It’s one of the most planted grapes in France and can be found in America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and more recently England. Pinot Meunier is one of the holy trinity of grapes used in the production of Champagne and English Sparkling Wine, alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and is used to add boldness and richness to the wine. It is also used in blending for still wines and a few English producers are making single varietal Pinot Meunier still wines.

What is English Pinot Meunier?

England is a cool climate region with many similarities to the Champagne region 20 years ago. It is ideal for growing grapes, such as Pinot Meunier, which are used in English Sparkling Wine.  Approximately 8.5% of English vineyards are planted to Pinot Meunier. It tends to bud later but ripen earlier than Pinot Noir which makes it a more sustainable grape to grow in England’s cooler, wetter climes. You will find Pinot Meunier in many English Sparkling Wine Classic Cuvées, alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  And many of Classic Method English Blanc de Noirs, including Wine GB 2022 Trophy winning, Wiston Estate Blanc De Noirs 2014, will be a blend of the dark grapes: Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  For an example of a Classic Method English Sparkling wine made from 100% Pinot Meunier, try Langham Wine Estate Sparkling White 2018.

There are also an increasing number of producers using Pinot Meunier to make still wine. It’s a very versatile grape that can be used in English red, English white or English rosé blends. In recent years there have also been some stunning examples of single varietal English Pinot Meunier. Artelium rosé 2020 and Simpsons Blanc de Noirs Pinot Meunier 2021, which is a still white wine made from black grapes, are terrific examples.

Pinot Meunier is grown throughout England, with Sussex, Kent and Hampshire being the predominant regions.

What Does English Pinot Meunier Taste Like?

Pinot Meunier is very versatile grape, so how it is made makes a huge difference to the how it tastes.  At the 2022 Wine GB Awards 12 wines were awarded the trophy for being the best in class. 5 of those 12 were Classic Method English Sparkling Wine with a blend of Pinot Meunier.  These range from Ashling Park Sparkling Rosé 2014 which is elegant and full flavoured with great intensity of fruit, length and complexity. To The Grange Classic NV which is pale straw gold in colour, delicate and delightfully refreshing.   Pinot Meunier lends a distinct red fruit flavour to Classic Method English Blanc de Noir and the wines tend to be full-bodied and fruity.

Why are French Champagne Houses are investing in UK Vineyards?

There are regions in the Southeast of England that have an upper crustaceous fine white chalk soil which is the exact same soil formation as the Champagne region in France.  With global warming making temperatures more ideal for grape growing in the UK and incidentally less than ideal in parts of France there has been increasing interest from across the channel. Champagne Taittinger is the first of the Grande Marque Champagne Houses to set a vineyard in the UK’s burgeoning English Sparkling wine industry. The first wines are due to be released in 2024.





Food pairing with Pinot Meunier

English Pinot Meunier

Food and Wine Pairings

As Pinot Meunier is so often used for blending you really need to know the type of wine you are drinking or decide on the food you are eating to find the perfect English food and wine pairing.

But as general principle, be it still or English Sparkling wines with Pinot Meunier pair with lean white meat such as chicken and pork, grilled or poached seafood and delicately flavoured salads.

Sparkling English wine and cheese are perfect partners and for those bolder Blanc De Noirs try hard cheeses packed with flavour, like Old Winchester.