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05 January 2006

Steppin to the PM

3rdbass2Quick late 80s/early 90s music trivia:  Name the hip-hop duo famous for its song, "Steppin' to the AM" [video here] (which, in the age of sampling gone wild, sampled the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Kool and the Gang and Pink Floyd) and, perhaps equally as famous for its animosity towards boom/bust dancer-cum-rappers, MC Hammer & Vanilla Ice.


The answer: 3rd Bass (also famous for distinctive, back-of-head-shaved haircuts).

Let's step from the AM to the PM.

Quick sparkling wine trivia:  Name the three grapes commonly used in the wine blends that comprise Champagne.


The answer: You most likely thought of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  And the 3rd grape of bubbledom is....Pinot Meunier.

AugustbriggsPinot Meunier, like many varietals is known by a number of monikers: Meunier, Gris Meunier, Müllerrebe and Schwarzriesling.  P.Meunier is commonly accepted to be a mutant clone of the readily mutating Pinot Noir.  Meunier is French for miller, as Müller in German means miller also.  Pinot Meunier garnered this name for the distinctive, flour-dusted appearance on the undersides of its leaves.  Aside from its name and appearance, this varietal has been an invaluable grape in Northern France and surrounding environs.  Unlike the fickle, finicky Pinot Noir, P.Meunier buds later and ripens earlier.  In other words, it avoids both early spring and late autumn snow & frost.  In fact, it is the most widely planted varietal in Champagne (40% of the vineyards).  So why is this Pinot pretty much anonymous to most wine drinkers?  The answer lies in its lack of a solo career.  Rare is the bottle labeled, "Pinot Meunier."  However, if you see one, give it a try.  Some time ago I sampled the August Briggs Pinot Meunier from Napa Valley.  Rather than the expected cherry-strawberry combo of many Cali Pinot Noirs, I was seduced by baked blueberries and chocolate.  Tell me, have you tried a single varietal Pinot Meunier?  Don't you think it's time?  Quit half steppin and find one.

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Always love the old school rap references...makes me feel like I'm in junior high all over again.

I've only had one varietal bottling of this bastard of the pinot family...and it was interesting mostly as a novelty. It's made by a local producer whose sister winery makes good bubbly with I'm guessing they bottle their lesser or younger grapes for the still wine. It's been a while since I had it...but I remember being surprised by the earthiness of it...


You youngwhippersnapper. I'd like to find a producer who, at least, semi-specializes in still P.M. Not to much to ask, is it?

Recently I went to the Capital Grille with some friends for dinner (in Washington DC). We randomly selected the 2002 Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier from the "Interesting Reds" section of the vast wine list. After one sip, we proceeded to order another bottle... I second the notion that if you find one, try it!

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