characterised by its ability to add bright acidity and deep ‘fruitiness’ to a wine, meunier (aka pinot meunier: the Champenoise have officially dropped the ‘pinot’) is both versatile and intriguing, and worlds apart from pinot noir and chardonnay. We tasted a dozen Champagnes, varietal and blended, championing meunier in all its citrussy, vinous glory.
Learn more about the characteristics of meunier, and how each permitted variety in Champagne contributes to a blend, at champagne-mooc.com.
NV Andre Heucq Heritage Blanc de Meunier Extra Brut, Champagne, A$82
From the tiny village of Cuisles in the Vallée de la Marne, producer Andre Heucq specialises in biodynamically grown meunier. This medium-bodied wine cuts clean and deep, with round, grapey flavours, brilliant pebbly acidity and a lively, refreshing bead.
2013 Laherte Frères Les Vignes D’Autrefois Extra Brut, Champagne, A$156 Another exceptional biodynamic producer, this time in the Côteaux Sud d’Epernay. It’s enigmatic, but not subtle. Malt, bacon fat and some reductive notes lead to an energetic palate of preserved lemon and mouthwatering acidity. A savoury and very compelling wine.
NV Salmon Mongolfiere Sélection Brut, Champagne, A$69
Meunier makes up 50% of this wine; the balance is equal parts pinot noir and chardonnay. As fresh as a babbling brook in a meadow, with green apple and fennel fronds, lemon and fresh croissant. Nuts and pulpy apple skin flavours are framed by a crisp, saline bead.
NV Bourgeois-Diaz BdM 100% Meunier, Champagne, A$112.50
From the Bourgeois-Diaz family’s biodynamic vineyard in Crouttes-sur-Marne comes this fine, balanced wine. Light- to medium-bodied, citrus and apple, toasty autolytic characters, mineral acid and crisp, refreshing bead – all hanging so neatly in the balance. So pure.
NV Vadin Plateau Renaissance Premier Cru Extra Brut, Champagne, A$90
100% Premier Cru meunier from the Vallée de la Marne. Honeysuckle and oyster shell, white grapes and honey toast. The palate has energy and glide, a dry, super fine bead and a complex savoury, saline, lemon zest drive. Full of life and sheer length to boot.
NV Gosset Grand Blanc de Meunier Extra Brut, Champagne, A$170
Built predominantly on the 2007 vintage and aged on lees for nine years, this is unsurprisingly complex. Burnt butter, preserved lemon and lime blossom aromas. Grapefruit phenolics, iodine and little red berries are all pushed into context by that hallmark Gosset acid.
NV Besserat de Bellefon Bleu Brut, Champagne, A$75
A meunier-dominant blend supported by chardonnay and pinot noir. Gee is this good. Aromas of nougat, honeysuckle and nashi pear lead to an ultra fine, precise palate. It’s very cool and dignified. White grape, lemon, subtle lime and nougat flavours with fresh, chalky and linear acidity. Break out the oysters.
2008 Michel Loriot Apollonis Monodie Meunier Vieilles Vignes Extra Brut, A$139
Michel Loriot famously plays music to his wines while they’re ageing – cue dad jokes about the wine singing. Star jasmine and lime blossom, marshmallow, walnuts and toast. A beautifully building, fine mousse supported by crunchy green apple and citrus and a charming nutty, oxidative note on the finish.
NV Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut, Champagne, A$75
This crisp cuvée comprises meunier and pinot noir (each 40%) with a chardonnay backbone. About 8g/l dosage. It’s fleshy with elements of white flowers, apple and honey; compelling too, with its salty/peppery acid and long finish.
2014 Chevreux-Bournazel La Parcelle Brut Zero, Champagne, A$165
100% meunier from a tiny (half an hectare) biodynamic vineyard in Connigis. Golden Delicious apple, honey toast and pulpy citrus notes framed by a savoury, leesy texture.
NV Krug Grande Cuvée 167ème Édition, Champagne, A$350
A wildcard in this line-up – Krug’s 167th Grande Cuvée contains just 17% meunier, bringing depth and roundness to an immeasurably structured wine. Mineral notes with citrus, thyme and pepper. It’s very, very good.
NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve, Champagne, A$80
40% meunier here. Lots of mineral character – seawater and oyster shell, wet rocks; sesame and hay. Fleshy fruit is tempered by grapefruit acidity and savoury texture. A palate primer.