This black wine grape is most commonly known for its role alongside Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in making Champagne, to which it brings freshness, fragrance and fruitiness. However, it is often less understood than these other grapes, and many people are unaware of its true potential. The name Meunier comes from the French word for miller, due to the flour like material found under its leaves. It takes up around a third of all vineyards in Champagne and is the tenth most common red wine grape in France, often used in blends but also occasionally to make fruity varietals with moderate acidity and modest tannins.
Pinot Meunier is good variety to grow in cooler climates, unlike its Champagne blend-mates. It buds late and ripens early and consistently. As such it is found across northern France, as well as Germany (where 2,424 hectares were recorded growing in 2004), Switzerland and Austria, and also in California, Australia and New Zealand.