The Tarlant family has tended vines in the Vallée de la Marne since 1687. They began producing their own wine in the 1870s. Such a long and rich history has allowed Benoît Tarlant, the latest family member to head the estate, to continue their reign as one of the region’s most distinguished growers. Benoît’s sister, Mélanie, works the business and marketing side of the operation.
Benoît’s Ultimate goal is to make zero-dosage Champagne by means of harvesting his fruit when it reaches its “prettiest” maturity — full of flavor with the acidity in balance. But he is not an absolutist. He will adjust his philosophy when the wines call for it, although it is rare for him to produce a wine that receives more than 6g/L dosage (just a hair over Extra Brut).
Based in the village of Oeuilly, the estate totals 34 acres spread across 57 parcels, each vinified separately. The vines average around 30 years old. Benoit embraces the diversity of his many plots but finds it a challenge to cultivate so many distinct sites using one strict technique. Subsequently, he employs a range of methods depending on the site. Some parcels are managed with biodynamic techniques, some organic, and some with Benoît’s form of “herbal therapy,” where various beneficial herbs are planted among the vines.
All prices based on the purchase of six or more bottles (mix and match).
~$53 “Zero” Brut Nature
“Zero” is one of Champagne’s best Brut Nature wines. There are decades of effort in perfecting the cuvée as Benoît’s father, Georges, has been making it since the early 1980s, long before it became trendy. The blend is roughly equal proportions of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Ripe fruit, several vintages of reserve wine, and long aging on the lees combine to produce a wine of beautiful depth. Layers of ripe yellow plum, peach, and citrus precede a honey-toasted richness.
$108 “L’Aérienne” Brut Nature (2004)
The long maturation of the fruit in the 2004 vintage contributed to an intense aromatic expression and a superb balance to this wine, an almost aerial sensation — hence the name of the cuvée, L’Aérienne. The blend is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir from the lieux-dits “L’Enclume”, “Les Marguiniers”, “Les Forgeottes”, and “Pierre de Bellevue” consisting of chalk and both friable and hard limestone. It was fermented with natural yeasts and aged in barrel before bottling in May 2005. Disgorgement was performed in 2017 and the wine was finished with zero dosage.
$126 “Cuvée Louis” (2002/2003 Base)
Cuvée Louis is named for Benoît’s great-great grandfather Louis, who was the first to bottle the family’s estate wines in 1928. The fruit is from the Tarlant’s original and chalkiest vineyard Les Crayons, named for the high chalk (craie) content of its soils. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from vines with an average age of 65 years, this is a radiant and monumental Champagne.
$162 “BAM!” Brut Nature (2009 base)
“BAM!” is produced from the far less common varieties of Pinot Blanc, Arbanne, Petit Meslier. The vines grow in the limestone, sand, and silica-based soils of the “Four à Chaux – les Sables” lieu-dit in the Tarlant’s home village of Oeuilly. This bottling is a 2009 base (50%) plus 2007 & 2008 (50%). It was fermented with natural yeasts and aged in barrel before bottling in May 2010. Disgorgement was performed in April 2016 and the wine was finished with zero dosage.
$243 “La Vigne d’Antan” Brut Nature (2002)
“La Vigne d’Antan” (The Vines of Yesteryear) is 100% Chardonnay from a single, ungrafted vineyard on sandy soils in Oeuilly. After nine months of aging in fourth-use oak barrels, the wine rested in bottle for over 11 years before disgorgement in May of 2014. Even after nearly two decades, there is still plenty of youthful lemon and apple fruit to go along with the mature layers of honey and brioche. This is a one of a kind Champagne.