Located in Oeuilly, Champagne Tarlant is one of the most significant houses for how we perceive Champagne today. Established in the 1700’s, Louis Tarlant was instrumental in establishing the AOC requirements for Champagne and was one of the first independent estates after refusing to sell fruit to the larger houses at the turn of the 20th century. Now, Benoit Tarlant is the 12th generation winemaker at his family’s estate.
The estate consists of 14 hectares of vines within 31 lieu-dits of Pinot Noir (50%), Chardonnay (30%) and Pinot Meunier (20%), along with small amounts of Champagne’s “forgotten”grapes” – Pinot Blanc, Arbane and Petit Meslier. From empirical observation, Benoît and Mélanie have singled out 63 parcels that they vinify individually each vintage, permitting unparalled precision in blending decisions for base and reserve wines, but also letting them highlight single vineyard expressions of their land.
In the vines, chemicals are never used and biodiversity is prioritized. Because of the Marne’s extremely diverse terroirs, Benoit adapts his viticultural approach parcel by parcel, using the soil, grape and micro-climate to guide him. While only contact treatments have been used for the past two generations, Benoît and Mélanie have decided to work towards organic certification.
In the cellar, the grapes are gently pressed and racked by gravity to Burgundian barrels, where each parcel ferments and ages individually. Malolactic fermentation almost never occurs but is not blocked: Benoît feels that through careful pressing, attention to temperature and the correct viticultural practices, Champagne’s naturally cold climate gives them grapes with low PH and high acidity, a combo that does not incite Malo. Sulfites are only added in microscopic doses at press and intermittently to casks of reserve wine. The wines are never filtered.
The big particularity of the Tarlant Champagnes, a tradition started by Benoît’s father Jean-Mary in the late 1970’s, is that the vast majority of the production (90%) is bottled without dosage. While the idea of Brut Nature Champagne has slowly but surely gained momentum since the early 2000’s, this was unheard of at the time. Still, Jean-Mary stuck to his guns and over time this has defined the Tarlant style. In such, the house’s entry level Cuvées are named “Zero”.
- NV Brut Zero
- NV Brut Rosé Zero