"A producer who gives each vintage a particular name (like for the Prestige Millésime) obviously has a close connection to mother nature, namely the character of the vintage, and also a good palate combined with a flowering intuition. In fact, Benoît Tarlant is a picture-book vigneron who cares for each of his 40 or so plots as if they all needed a particular treatment. We met in April at the very beginning of this exceptional summer, when the shoots were still very short and not safe. The soils had just been plowed, and the difference from neighboring plots from well-known names and houses that leave the "cultivation" of the vineyards in the hands of industrial viticultural companies was already huge. Benoît and his sister, Mélanie, cultivate roughly 13 hectares of vineyards in Oeuilly and three neighboring villages. Most of the vineyards are planted with Pinot Noir and 30% with Chardonnay, which is still a high figure compared to the 19% planted with Pinot Meunier, which is the most prominent grape variety in the Marne Valley. Nevertheless, Tarlant produces one of the most spectacular Pinot Meuniers of the entire Champagne region, La Vigne d'Or, which comes from vines planted in 1947. I tasted four freshly disgorged vintages, of which the 1999 and 2002 were mind-blowing in their combination of richness, purity and freshness. La Vigne d'Antan (from ungrafted Chardonnay vines), which I have already reviewed, and from the three Millésime Prestige cuvées I tasted, the 2002 l'Étincelante is just fabulous in its iodine chalkiness and vibrant freshness. Freshness and purity are common features in all of the Tarlant cuvées, even the richer, full-bodied wines, none of which have undergone malolactic fermentation. Since each plot is vinified separately, the range is pretty wide. I didn't taste all of the wines, but each one I did taste is authentic, pure and bone dry, whereas complexity comes with age.