Situated in Oeuilly,10km west of Epernay, high in the hills overlooking the Marne Valley. The vineyards are a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Meunier and the final 1% being mixture of the now almost extinct Arbanne, Petit Meslier, and Pinot Blanc.
The Tarlant family have been vignerons since 1687, and are now under the guidance of the youthful and exuberant Benoit Tarlant, producing some of the most exciting wines to come from the region. They produce a range of wines that are complex, and very much terroir driven.
Benoit is one of the new breed of producers who is open to new ideas and concepts, and has traveled and worked vintages from California to Australia and New Zealand.
He is absolutely fastidious about the quality of his grapes and the subsequent juice. Traditionally in Champagne you are allowed to press 2,550 litres of juice from 4,000 kgs of grapes. This is split into various quality components which may or may not be used by the grower and maybe sold off. Benoit takes this step one further; his philosophy is simple ‘press fractions are decided by quality not by numbers’. He carefully monitors the juice from the first pressing (the cuvee) and divides this into ‘Cuvee A and Cuvee B’. When he is no longer happy with the quality he simply stops pressing. He has no concern to press further to produce a second pressing and has no interest in vinifying it and then selling it off to the big houses- doing that is just a waste of time, tank and space. Often he may only obtain 1400-1600 litres of usable juice from the 4000kg. He then combines the various A and B components to achieve his cuvee blend. Dosages are kept low with the average being 6g/litre.
The decision whether to ferment in oak or tank is totally dependant on the quality of the fruit. Vinification is partially in stainless steel (about 40%) and in small oak barriques from Burgundy of which they will remain in for around 6 months aging. The barrels are always purchased new to avoid malolactic fermentation when desired, as by blocking the malo on some cuvees helps to give freshness and longevity to the blends.
The back labels are are some of the most impressive I have ever come across when coming to detail. Benoit does not hold anything back and goes to great length to explain the vineyard, when and how the grapes were picked, disgorgement dates and dosage.
There is a very modern and elegant cellar door, where you are likely to encounter all members of the family, and their hospitality is warm, genuine and a must visit if in the area.