Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Irvine & Roberts 2016 Pinot Meunier

There are three grapes grown in Champagne but most people are aware of two of the grapes – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The third grape is Pinot Meunier, a grape that gets less acclaim. I have tasted a few Champagnes that are predominantly, or exclusively, Pinot Meunier, but I had never had a still red wine made from 100% Pinot Meunier until now. And that is why the Irvine & Roberts 2016 Pinot Meunier from the Rouge Valley in Oregon is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Pinot Meunier is a clonal mutation of the Pinot group, which means that it is related to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and others. Pinot Meunier is considered a quiet workhorse in Champagne and is not as challenging to grow as Pinot Noir. It is also a rather “ugly duckling” in the vineyard. The vines can look sickly at first glance as the underside of the vines’ leaves are covered with a white fur. This is what inspired the name, Meunier, which is French for “miller”.

But in the glass, the Irvine & Roberts Pinot Meunier is anything but an ugly duckling. It is a bright garnet color with purple tones but is also almost transparent.

On the nose, the wine is perfume-y with bright tones of black raspberry, tart cherry, wild strawberries and rose petals, as well as savory leather notes. The tart cherry follows through on the palate, along with cooking spices. The wine is medium bodied with medium acidity.

Irvine & Roberts Family Vineyard, located in Ashland, in the Rouge Valley in southern Oregon, has .85 acres planted to Pinot Meunier. It is a wine that is difficult to compare to another wine but why bother when it is so vibrant and enjoyable. Pick up a bottle of the 2016 Irvine & Roberts Pinot Meunier for $35 and you will see why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

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