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At present now we have a convention preview from Alan Tardi. On this publish, Alan tells us about his upcoming session entitled “Meunier: The Black Sheep of Champagne.” Alan’s session is obtainable as half SWE’s 43rd Annual Convention, to be held August 14 – 16 in Washington DC.

Meunier Steps Into the Highlight

It occurs with grapevines a lot because it occurs with folks: a handful of well-known celebrities entice all the eye and steal the present wherever they go whereas many others languish within the shadows. There’s often a superb clarification for this: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are rock stars; everybody loves them, and so they will be inclined to make superlative wines most in every single place grapevines are grown. Extra energy to them (as in the event that they wanted it)!

Photo via http://champagnemoussefils.com/en/

Photograph through http://champagnemoussefils.com/en/

However typically the quirky, much less effusive, much less generic, much less esteemed, sadly ignored varieties even have one thing genuinely worthwhile and totally distinctive to deliver to the desk. And attending to know them could be fairly fulfilling.

The very massive class of ignored grapes could be divided into two fundamental teams: actually obscure sorts of unsure parentage that play a minor—although, some would say, nonetheless vital—function even of their major areas of origin (Petit Meslier and Arbanne in Champagne, for instance), and people which are well-established members of their vinous communities and play a big function of their area’s wine manufacturing, however are nonetheless marginalized and handled as second-class residents.



Malbec, a traditionally essential however largely nameless participant in Bordeaux and Cahors, was a superb instance of this subgroup earlier than it gained worldwide status as the purple grape of Argentina. And Meunier is one other.

Pinot Meunier is, as its title suggests, an offspring mutation of Pinot Noir, as is Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, that are additionally accredited varieties in Champagne. However in contrast to the opposite members of this well-endowed, genetically close-knit however extraordinarily mutable household, Pinot Meunier has not expanded very far exterior its space of origin, a lot much less achieved something near the star-status of its shut relations.

Although this could be appeared upon as a flaw from a business standpoint or a serious shortcoming for one with worldwide celebrity aspirations, it does recommend a particular and intensely shut affinity with the winegrowing area of Champagne.



It’s troublesome to find out precisely why, how, when, or the place a grape mutation takes place, nevertheless it appears doubtless that the “floury” mutation of pinot happened happened on Champagne soil, particularly within the Vallée de la Marne. If true, this could make Meunier the true native son of Champagne (or reasonably native daughter, since in French the vine is female).

Lengthy overshadowed by and overtly derided as inferior to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier—or just Meunier, because the Champenois favor to name it—has performed an essential, maybe even essential, function in Champagne for practically 4 centuries. At present it occupies a full third of plantings within the area, and within the 1950s made up practically 50%!

The Meunier vine buds later and ripens sooner than the opposite two, making is much less vulnerable to devasting frosts which have lengthy been the scourge of this excessive northern rising space, and it is usually extra proof against dangerous maladies like powdery mildew, downy mildew, coulure and millerandage. To place it bluntly, Meunier has saved Champagne producers’ butts time and again.



Up till pretty not too long ago, the overwhelming majority of champagne was a harmonious mix of grape varieties and right here too, Meunier performed an important however largely unacknowledged function by contributing fleshy physique, recent ripe fruit, and a pleasing down-to-earthiness to enhance Pinot Noir’s agency construction and Chardonnay’s finesse and dazzle. However Meunier may stand all by itself and, if taken severely and given the possibility, show aspects of Champagne that the others merely can’t.

All this implies nothing extra (or much less) than the truth that the Meunier grape can present a special, deeper perception into some of the illustrious wines and winegrowing areas of the world. However how will you get to know what it’d supply, whether or not by itself or in a basic cuvée mix, for those who can’t style it?

Due to a small group of winegrowers who’ve lengthy nurtured the Meunier vine and believed in its potential however its second-class standing, and a rising variety of customers who’re open to and searching for one thing a bit totally different, Meunier is lastly getting its flip within the highlight. And right here is the possibility to get to realize it for your self.



My session, Meunier: The Black Sheep of Champagne might be supplied on the Society of Wine Educators 43rd annual convention on August 15, and can embrace the extraordinary alternative of tasting 9 100% Meunier wines of Champagne aspect by aspect, from 4 totally different producers and terroirs. These wines will characteristic quite a lot of types and typologies: purple, white and rosé; nonetheless (Coteaux Champenois) and glowing; single-vineyard, perpetual reserve and fortified (ratafia).

This expertise will give individuals a greater understanding of a protracted underrated grape selection and a wholly totally different perspective on a wine and a wine-growing area we maintain so dearly—Champagne.

A really particular due to the wineries, and their US importer-distributors, whose beneficiant collaboration has made this presentation attainable:

In regards to the speaker: Alan Tardi, former NYC chef and restaurateur, has lengthy labored as a contract journalist authoring articles about wine and meals for quite a few publications together with The New York Occasions, Wine & Spirits Journal, The Wine Spectator, Decanter, Sommelier Journal, and Meals Arts. His new ebook, “Champagne, Uncorked: The Home of Krug and the Timeless Attract of the World’s Most Celebrated Drink” (Hachette/PublicAffairs 2016) not too long ago gained a Gourmand Greatest within the World Award within the French Wine class.

Alan’s session, “Meunier: The Black Sheep of Champagne ” might be held on Thursday, August 15 at 8:45 am as a part of the Society of Wine Educator’s 43rd Annual Convention, to be held in Washington DC.

Are you a convention speaker that want to share a preview of your session? Contact Jane A. Nickles at [email protected]