Pinot Noir in Champagne: Blanc de Noirs and pink Champagne

This article considers how Pinot Noir, a black grape, influences the taste of Champagne and its influence in making pink Champagne. There is also an example of using Pinot Meunier - a widely planted variety which hardly receives any mention. Some questions this article addresses, even if not explicitly, are: why aren't all Blanc de Noirs pink? Why isn't all Champagne made with black grapes (including those which have Pinot Meunier) pink?. Why isn't all pink Champagne made 'saignée' which is a complicated but normal part of the Champagne method1, as opposed to blending red wines at their second fermentation2. Wines may be made using both methods.

On the face of it there may not appear to be much in common between the different Champagne styles of pink Champagne and blanc de noirs. Both have black grapes as part of their constituents - either Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. A characteristic of some blanc de noirs is a very slight but nonetheless discernible 'pinkness' in their colour  - holding the glass up to a white background will help to determine if it is present. Even generic Champagne is often made up of a large part of black grapes. One peculiarity of some rosé wines is that under the rules of the Champagne Appellation,

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  1. at the time of pressing the grape skins are allowed to 'bleed' into the juice. 

  2. the latter is considered slightly easier because it can be judged more carefully especially for the production of larger quantities of Champagne.