Tarlant

Tarlant

The Tarlant family has been a pioneering presence in the Vallée de la Marne of Champagne since 1687, when Pierre Tarlant cultivated the first family vineyards. Fast forward to the early 20th century, when Louis Tarlant was not only the the mayor of their home village of Oeuilly but also a leader in the grower movement to protect the purity of Champagne production, which led to the creation of the Champagne AOC in 1927. in 1928, Louis also was the first to bottle Tarlant estate wine. Today, his great-great-great grandchildren, the dynamic brother-sister team of Benoît and Mélanie Tarlant, are the twelfth generation to run the show. Benoît took over from his father Jean-Mary as full-time winemaker in 1999, with his sister handling the business and marketing side; Jean-Mary still tends vines and lends advice.

Tarlant neither sources nor sells any fruit. Total production is approximately 10,000 cases annually. They grow mainly Chardonnay (thirty percent of their plantings) Pinot Noir (fifty percent) and Pinot Meunier (twenty percent), with an intriguing dash of old local varieties like Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Pinot Blanc.  The soils in this area west of Epernay are quite diverse, containing sand, clay, pebbles, crumbly chalk, hard limestone in various combinations, including a local clay-limestone soil called Sparnacien. Fourteen hectares of vines are spread over four western-Marne villages (Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé) and about fifty-five parcels.  Each parcel is harvested manually and vinified separately. The vines average around thirty years old but some are much older, going back to the 1940’s. With an eye toward maximizing the impact of terroir in the wines, the farming is organic (not certified) and includes some biodynamic preparations. Cover crops and wild plants grow between rows, and biodiversity is actively promoted throughout their property.

Notably, the Tarlant range is mainly brut nature (eighty percent today) and has been since the 1970’s. Long before the current fashion for zéro dosage wines, Jean-Mary felt strongly that adding any sweetening tended to mask terroir expression. The rest of Tarlant's practices have evolved to maximize terroir and also vintage transparency. It starts with full ripening of the fruit, which is critical to balance and success with no dosage; once that organically farmed, hand-harvested, rigorously sorted fruit enters the cellar, it is very gently pressed and the must fermented mainly with native yeasts. All wines are moved by gravity only.The mainstay “Zéro” line, white and rosé wines comprising sixty percent of production, starts life in tank before being blended with barrel-aged reserve wines; the higher end of the range is entirely barrel-fermented.  None of the wines are allowed to go through malolactic fermentation, but they are stirred regularly.  Critical also to the character of Tarlant is extended bottle aging--from three to four years for Zéro and up to fifteen years for prestige bottlings--before disgorgement. As emphasized by their name, the "Zéro" line receives no dosage, and nor do virtually any of the prestige-level wines (with increasingly rare exception).

There is another notable aspect of the Tarlant line-up when considering the non-Zéro wines. The historic house crown-jewel Cuvée Louis and the unique heirloom-grape BAM! are both multi-vintage wines. The rest of the bottlings are all single-vintage, but interestingly, among these Tarlant distinguishes between terroir-focused wines and vintage-focused wines. The “terroir” wines-- La Vigne d'Antan, La Vigne d'Or and La Vigne Royale—are from single parcels, are usually made yearly and do indicate the vintage—but in tiny characters tucked away on the back of the bottle.  The “vintage” wine is only one per year, a snapshot selected to represent that vintage in the Tarlant experience and dubbed with a one-time name—e.g. the 2002 L’Etincelante, 2003 La Matinale, 2004 L’Aérienne—with the vintage prominently featured on the front label.

Theirs is a unique and complex approach, which well describes Tarlant’s overall Champagne style as well. While ranging naturally with site and vintage, their wines have a consistency of power and complexity, marked by intense fruit character, acidity and minerality; rich texture; fine bubbles; and a persistent finish. Vibrancy is truly the hallmark of this estate's history, wines and current generation.

Benoît Tarlant on Grower Champagne
Image PRODUCT Description

DB2952-12
Organic
Zéro Brut Nature (2012 Base)
NV
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
One-third Chardonnay, one-third Pinot Noir, one-third Pinot Meunier. This cuvée makes up sixty percent of Tarlant's production and sets the... Read More

DB2950-10
Organic
Zéro Brut Nature (2010 Base)
NV
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
One-third Chardonnay, one-third Pinot Noir, one-third Pinot Meunier. This cuvée makes up sixty percent of Tarlant's production and sets the... Read More

DB2951-13
Organic
91 VM, 91 WA
Rosé Zéro Brut Nature (2013 Base)
NV
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
Fifty percent Chardonnay, forty-four percent Pinot Noir and six percent Pinot Meunier. Tarlant rosé used to be mainly Chardonnay with about... Read More

DB6173-03
Organic
La Matinale Brut Nature
2003
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
Forty-five percent Pinot Noi, twenty-eight percent Chardonnay and twenty-seven percent Pinot Meunier. Hand-harvested very early in the... Read More

DB5871-04
Organic
L'Aérienne Brut Nature
2004
Chardonnay
Seventy percent Chardonnay and thirty percent Pinot Noir. From “a year won by Chardonnay” according to Benoît Tarlant and from several... Read More

DB6171-04
Sustainable
La Vigne d'Or Brut Nature
2004
Pinot Meunier
100% Pinot Meunier. A blanc des noirs from a single parcel called "Pierre de Bellevue", planted in 1947 in Oeuilly by the Tarlants... Read More

DB5813-02
Organic
L'Etincelante Brut Nature
2002
Chardonnay
Fifty-seven percent Chardonnay, twenty-nine percent Pinot Noir and fourteen percent Pinot Meunier. It was “a dream harvest” according to... Read More

DB6170-03
Organic
La Vigne Royale Brut Nature
2003
Pinot Noir
BY SPECIAL ORDER ONLY 100% Pinot Noir. Tarlant's blanc des noirs from a single parcel of vines called "Mocque Tonneau",... Read More

DB2954-NV
Organic
Cuvée Louis Brut Nature (2000 Base)
NV
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Fifty percent Chardonnay and fifty percent Pinot Noir. Cuvée Louis is named for Benoît’s and Melanie’s great-great-great grandfather Louis... Read More

DB2954-02
Organic
94 VM
Cuvée Louis Brut Nature (2002-03 Base)
NV
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
50%Chardonnay/50% Pinot Noir. Cuvée Louis is named for Benoît’s and Melanie’s great-great-great grandfather Louis, who was the first to... Read More