Please The Palate Wine of the Week: Two Shepherds 2018 Pinot Meunier, Hopkins Vineyard, Russian River Valley

I fell in love the moment I poured the wine in the glass. I love light colored red wines and this one was a light garnet color. I put my nose in the glass and smelled such a pretty wine with aromas of cherries, cranberries, lavender, black tea, and savory herb notes. Medium bodied, the wine had lovely acidity and soft tannins and put a smile on my face. That is why the Two Shepherds 2018 Pinot Meunier, Hopkins Vineyard, Russian River Valley is the Please The Palate wine of the week.

Pinot Meunier, pronounced “pi-no-mø-nje”, is not a grape that gets a lot of attention or love but it should! A dark-berried grape variety, it is one of the three grapes used to make Champagne. Sadly, Pinot Meunier is not as highly recognized as its partners Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A hard working grape, the name Meunier is French for “miller” and is named as such due to a “floury” appearance on the underside of the vine leaves. Pinot Meunier is a member of the Pinot group and shares DNA with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and others.

The majority of Pinot Meunier is grown in France. It is primarily in Champagne but can also be found in the Loire Valley. It is also grown in Germany where it is called Schwarzriesling, Müllerrebe and Müller-Traube. Small quantities are also grown in Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, England, Canada, and the United States. Carneros is the primary place it is grown in California.

Pinot Meunier as a still wine is rare to find. Two Shepherds has been making a still Pinot Meunier for three years and 2018 is the third vintage. The grapes are sourced from the 65-acre Hopkins Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The grapes are fermented with native yeasts in small bins and then aged for 10 months in neutral oak barrel. The bottled wine is unfined and unfiltered.

There are only 100 cases of this pretty and delicate wine with raspberry and cherry notes. It is so easy to fall in love with Pinot Meunier and I suggest grabbing a bottle when you can. This pretty wine will pair beautifully with roast duck, poultry, and roast meats and is available from Two Shepherds for $44.