allowed grapes in Champagne

What is the Meunier grape? How long has it been allowed in Champagne?

Wiki had some useful info on this a while back.

Champagne is a single Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. As a general rule, grapes used must be the white Chardonnay, or the dark-skinned “red wine grapes” Pinot noir or Pinot Meunier, which, due to the gentle pressing of the grapes and absence of skin contact during fermentation, usually also yield a white base wine. Most Champagnes, including Rosé wines, are made from a blend of all three grapes, although Blanc de blanc (“white from white”) Champagnes are made from 100% Chardonnay and Blanc de noir (“white from black”) Champagnes are made solely from Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier or a mix of the two.[25]

Four other grape varieties are permitted, mostly for historical reasons, as they are rare in current usage. The 2010 version of the appellation regulations lists seven varieties as allowed, Arbanne, Chardonnay, Petit Meslier, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot noir.[31] The sparsely cultivated varieties (0.02% of the total vines planted in Champagne) of Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot blanc, might still be found in modern cuvées from a few producers.[32] Previous directives of INAO make conditional allowances according to the complex laws of 1927 and 1929, and plantings made prior to 1938.[33] Before the 2010 regulations, the complete list of the actual and theoretical varieties also included Pinot de Juillet and Pinot Rosé.[34] The Gamay vines of the region were scheduled to be uprooted by 1942, but due to World War II, this was postponed until 1962,[35] and this variety is not allowed in Champagne today.[31]

The dark-skinned Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier give the wine its length and backbone. They are predominantly grown in two areas—the Montagne de Reims and the Vallée de la Marne. The Montagne de Reims run east-west to the south of Reims, in northern Champagne. They are notable for north-facing chalky slopes that derive heat from the warm winds rising from the valleys below. The River Marne runs west–east through Champagne, south of the Montagne de Reims. The Vallée de la Marne contains south-facing chalky slopes. Chardonnay gives the wine its acidity and biscuit flavor. Most Chardonnay is grown in a north-south-running strip to the south of Épernay, called the Côte des Blanc, including the villages of Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger. These are east-facing vineyards, with terroir similar to the Côte de Beaune. The various terroirs account for the differences in grape characteristics and explain the appropriateness of blending juice from different grape varieties and geographical areas within Champagne, to get the desired style for each Champagne house.[25]

Pinot Meunier is typically used as a blending grape, however there are still some R-Ms around that make a pure Pinot Meunier Champagne that is worth tracking down.

I have not loved the pure Meunier’s I’ve had (not that I’ve had many). I’d love to try some of those crazier varietals. Anyone making a pure Arbanne? Never even heard of it.

I can help with the Meunier question…

Oh, and Moutard makes an all Arbanne wine called Cépage Arbanne Cuvée Vieilles Vignes.

Arbane, Chardonnay, Fromenteau (Pinot Gris), Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir are the 7 accepted varieties. Gamay used to be allowed as well. Apparently Bollinger still has some planted there…

Mmmmm biscuits

Cool. Is it any good?

The Egly-Oriet ‘Les Vignes de Vrigny’ 100% pinot meunier bottling is available at several stores in NYC.

The Ariston family makes a “Cepages d’Antan” bottling composed of 40% Arbanne 40% Petit Meslier and 20% Pinot Blanc. It’s been a few years since I’ve had it but I thought it was excellent both times I tasted it (at the K&L Champagne text event), rich and focused. Only available at K&L in the US as far as I can tell.

I had a bottle, this past April, and I found it interesting and enjoyable, though I wasn’t compelled to buy more.

Jose Michel makes some 100% Pinot Meunier champagnes, which have a reputation for being capable of aging for decades [if not centuries].

But I’ve only ever tried them young, when they show very strong notes of pine sap or cedar resin, as though they were whole-cluster fermented.

For me the reference wines for 100% Pinot Meunier are the old vintages made by the late Rene’ Collard.
Back in the present time, the 100% PM wines can range from sometimes tryingly intellectual and relatively austere efforts such as Jerome Prevost’s Les Beguines to expressions of pure, unbridled vinous joy such as Alexandre Chartogne’s Les Barres.
I love Pinot Meunier and what it brings to the table.
As for other “marginal” and exotic grape varieties, I think the Aubry brothers make some truly stunning wines (notably, the Nombre d’Or cuvees): the sheer fun factor and exuberance combine with great elegance and high-precision wine-making. Just brilliant.

Get with the times guys, it’s officially just Meunier (no more Pinot) as of a few years ago.

So I suppose you poo-poo Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, too? [berserker.gif]

Most definitely.

Laherte Freres Les Clos Les 7 contains all seven grapes and is quite good. They also make a rocking 100% pinot meunier called Extra Brut Les Vignes d’Autrefois.

Beats me. I’ve never even seen it for sale! I just know it exists because I do a lot of research when writing about Champagne.

Had the Clos Les 7 recently, found it solid but not that good. Then again, I don’t like the oxidative style of Champagne. Their meunier on the other hand is ridiculously good.