This is the first post in a series on grapes that are either a type that has been tried in a blended wine, but are difficult to obtain as a standalone example or lesser known varietals in general. Since most people have an idea of Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir (thanks Sideways), and Riesling, I thought it might be interesting to profile a few of the other wines you might be able to find as an opportunity to expand your palate if you get a chance.
Pinot Meunier is the other red grape used in the production of Champagne. In fact, it accounts for roughly 40% of the total plantings of vines in that region. The two “noble” grapes of Chardonnay (found alone in Blanc de Blanc) and Pinot Noir (found alone in Blanc de Noir – usually. This can also have Meunier as Cresta has explained) have long overshadowed the humble Meunier. If you have tried all three type of Champagne and not found the same sharpness or acidity in either of the sole varietal versions, what you are noticing is the Meunier. American and Australian bubbly producers also grow Meunier to help produce an offering closer to the traditional Champagne.
The flavor when produced alone produces a jammy wines with moderate acidity and low tannin. It makes a very nice drink now wine that usually doesn’t need a large amount of time to open up. There are very few producers who make a still version of Meunier and even fewer who make a sparkling version. Chandon, Eyrie, Wilakenzi, and Bouchaine are a few of the wineries who produce a still version. Chandon is usually available in Kentucky and Ohio. The rest might need to be a special order from you local wine store or a direct order from the winery. The only sparkling version of Meunier I have had was at the 2012 Cincinnati Wine Festival. It was imported by Terry Theise can called Aubry Brut, sadly that is the extent of my notes on that selection.
Personally, I enjoy the sharpness of the Meunier on its own. It provides a balance lending towards acidity with enough tannic structure to make a nice wine that is easily paired with lighter foods. If you get the chance to try one of these, take it. Especially if you like Champagne or want to taste one part alone from the others to try and see if you can tell the make up the next time you try some bubbly.
Thanks to Alphonse at DEPS Fine Winne, Kevin at Party Source, David at Water Tower Fine Wines, and JP at Party Town for their help with this article. Please support your local wine shops and any of these four folks will be more than happy to help you find some unusal wines if you stop in and see them.
I finally tried the last wine that was sent to me from Aldi back in December. I was pretty skeptical as I’d never had a Chianti, but it was better than I thought it would be for $5.99.
I can’t place the aroma I experienced when I first popped the cork on the 2009 Gonfalone (Italy) Chianti. It was interesting, sort of a syrupy cherry. It didn’t taste like it smelled though. It had ripe fruit flavors and some spice. The label says it’s a full-bodied wine but I would say it’s more medium-bodied. It’s fairly dry on the tongue as well. I chilled it a while before drinking.
I went back to have another glass a couple of days later and it was “flat.” I’m assuming this was because it lacked acidity. It definitely did not taste as good as when it was first opened.
Not one of my faves but OK for the price.
Life has been completely crazy lately! I have had a chance to enjoy a couple of wines…just haven’t had much time to write about them. Here are a couple of nice Cabernet Sauvignon varieties I’ve recently tasted.
2009 Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon. A Cab Sauv from California with flavors of black cherry, vanilla and chocolate. Medium bodied with moderate tannins, this wine is easy to drink. It paired nicely with the pork loin we had for dinner.
2010 Root: 1 Cabernet Sauvignon. Root: 1 wines are known as the “original ungrafted” wines as the grapes are grown in the ungrafted root systems of the Colchagua Valley in Chile, which results in intense, ripe fruit flavors.
This wine has a strong cherry aroma with deep flavors of tangy blackberry and vanilla. It is a full-bodied wine with soft tannins and good structure. I’d love to eventually try the Root:1 Carmenere and Sauvignon Blanc.
You should be able to find these wines for $10-$12 each.
By Angela L.
Last fall I came across one of the best red’s I ever tasted. I had the Pennywise Petite Sirah, and it was bold and built like the way a Petite Sirah should be. To my curiosity, I wanted to find out about more wines from this label. I asked my local wine store Liquor City to let me know when their Petite Sirah and other wines from Pennywise came in.
This week they came in…finally, I bought the Pennywise Cabernet Sauvignon and the Pinot Noir. Since it’s summer I cracked open the Pinot Noir. Wow, was I amazed to have tasted such a vibrant, yummy, jammy wine!
As soon as the cork comes out, there’s a hint of Root Beer. I let the wine breathe for about an hour and I could smell the hints of strawberries and cherries. This vibrant wine had tastes of cherries, plums, and strawberries right off the bat. You let it sit on your tongue and small traces of anise and some sandalwood com out.
A great summer red wine that needs to breath for about 30 – 50 minutes to taste all of it’s luscious jammy flavors. I would recommend this with a light pasta vodka creme fish dish or a pork dish of any kind. Check out their wines, the Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir are wonderful. My suggestion, is pick up a few bottles for your collection, my advice these wines will get better with age.
**Spoiler alert: Next Blog posting from me will be on the Pennywise Cabernet Sauvignon.
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