In Champagne’s Vallée de la Marne, Benoît and Mélanie Tarlant manage their vines and their cellar the way a mad scientist runs his laboratory. A pinch of that, a dash of this; everything is done painstakingly by hand and with keen attention to every detail.These 12th generation vignerons buck the trends of the Marne, where Pinot Meunier dominates. Instead, the Tarlants have planted half of their 13 hectares to Pinot Noir, and just under a third to Chardonnay.Tarlant père, Jean-Mary, made waves in Champagne in the ‘70s by producing some of the region’s first Brut Nature wines, with no added dosage; the aim here is to allow the purity of the fruit to beam through the glass, without any manipulations. With all of the extraordinary terroir, meticulous farming and winemaking techniques practices in use at Tarlant, you’d think the wines would sell for a ton of money—but no, somehow, over 12 generations, the Tarlant name has remained under the radar.
What importer Bowler Wine has to say about this wine...
1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Pinot Meunier. This cuvée makes up 70-90% of Tarlant's production and "is my daily obsession", says Benoît Tarlant. Zero reflects the Tarlant emphasis on unadorned terroir, with no selected yeasts and no dosage The compostion is generally 60% of the base vintage--in this case 2012--plus 40% reserve wine--here from 2008-2011. The organically farmed, hand-harvested fruit comes potentially from all 62 of Tarlant's parcels from across 4 villages (Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-lès-Condé), and incredibly, each is vinified separately to give maximum flexibility in dialing in the blend.
Champagne boasts some of the world’s greatest luxury brands with Krug, Cristal and, of course, Dom Perignon. But it’s also home to hundreds of small dynamic producers—farmers who grow their own grapes (often organically) and make (often with natural methods) tiny amounts of pure and absolutely delicious wine that reflect the individual personalities of their villages and terroirs. Toast with these wines, for sure. But also treat them like the great wines they are: taste, drink, explore!