Visiting Champagne Tarlant
Zero and low dosage specialists


Benoit Tarlant

Champagne Tarlant are a dynamic family house with a wide range of Champagnes.  

They have 14 hectares spread through 4 different crus: Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan and Celles-les-Condés, all in the Marne Valley. Altogether this adds up to some 57 parcels, which are farmed sustainably. Average age of the vines is 35 years.

Benoit Tarlant showed us around, and talked about his approach. He's farming 1.5 hectares with the 501 biodynamic preparation, but he doesn't claim to be biodynamic. 'It's more herbotherapy, using some plants to help my plants,' he says. He's not so keen on spiritual aspects of biodynamics. 'Using plants is when I do a tea. I am not trying to get any energy, I am trying to extract salicylates to protect grapes from disease.'

Benoit has taken many of the Champagnes in the direction of using very low or no dosage, with the dosage levels now ranging from 0–6 g/litre. ‘My father began to do brut zero 20 years ago,’ he says, ‘so it is not a new thing.’ Tarlant is so convinced by non-dosage wines that he is committing his efforts to it. ‘Ten years ago it represented 5–10% of our production; now, it is around 60% of it.’ He adds that it is still a very small segment in Champagne.

What are the keys to success with this style? ‘The first key is the people. It’s really a goal for me to achieve this style of Champagne wine. I make every possible effort at all production steps to do it. We have to be ready for risks, we have to like to play with acidity. The next step is picking mature grapes (not just by alcohol level, but also physiologically), respectful pressing and then natural vinification, in which we follow the wines rather than forcing them. One particular key is we work in tanks and in barrels. If vineyard origin is well selected, barrel fermentation can open more taste sensations. A blend of the three grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) helps to get a better balance, but that's a point of view. We also blend with a good proportion of reserve wine (between 30 and 50%), which have been also aged in barrels. We also allow respectful ageing in the bottle.’


'When you go in the direction of making Brut Nature Champagne you can never be in a hurry; you need time,' he says. 'I am not looking for zero dosage to be too austere. I don't want it to be sharp. I want to put all the tastes on the fine acid line. I don't want acid aggressivity.'

Is dosage needed for ageing? 'To age after disgorging some people think that sugar is needed,' says Benoit. 'I disagree. Do we need to add sugar to Grand Cru Chablis?'

Vinification is 70% in barrel, 29% in tank, and 1% in amphora. He's tried various amphora, but some lose too much wine. For this reason he's moved to the ceramic Clayver balls, which he started using in 2012, and says he is just beginning to get the hang of. He's never used concrete eggs. 'If you don’t prepare them well, it changes the pH,' he says. There are no added yeasts, and no malolactic fermentation. '75% of the job is about the grapes and the press,' he says.


Champagne Tarlant Brut Nature 'Zero' NV France
This is base 2007 plus reserve wines, disgorged in September 2014 with no dosage. One third each of the main varieties. Fine, nutty, toasty nose with some citrus and spice. The palate is precise with high acidity and lovely structure. This has power and finesse, with focused, toasty, spicy citrus fruit. 93/100

Tarlant Rosé Brut Nature 'Zero' NV France
2008 vintage plus reserve wines, disgorged July 2014. 85% Chardonnay 15% Pinot Noir. Quite full pink colour with an orange edge. Powerful and quite intense with cranberry and cherry notes. Structured. Subtle herb notes. Linear and robust with a lovely savoury dimension to the cherry fruit. 92/100

Champagne Tarlant Vintage 'La Matinale' 2003 France
28% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, 27% Pinot Meunier, disgorged July 2014, zero dosage. Fresh, taut and crisp with some richness. Notes of herbs and lemons with a bit of spice. Lively and focused with a toasty hint and een acidity. Very linear and precise. 93/100 

Champagne Tarlant Bam! NV France
A blend of Pinot Blanc, Petit Meuslier and Arbanne, blending 2007 and 2008, disgorged November 2013. Very linear and precise with keen acidity. Very focused nd linear with amazing precision and focus, and notes of lemon and grapefruit, as well as subtle herbs. 92/100

Champagne Tarlant La Vigne d'Or Blanc de Meuniers 2003 France
This is from 65+ year old vines in Oeuilly, made previously in 1999 and 2002. Disgorged in October 2014 with zero dosage. Yellow gold in colour. Quite rich and toasty with pear and peach fruit, as well as some toast and hazelnut. Textural with a bit of grapefruit on the finish but also rich mango notes and some almond/marzipan. 94/100  

Champagne Tarlant La Vigne Royale Blanc de Noirs 2003 France
From steep vineyards with a 42% slope. Disgorged in October 2014. Very lively, fruity nose with cherries, apples and herbs. Really expressive in the mouth with cherries, plums, ripe apples and lemons. Such precision to this wine which is linear and focused. Bright, complex and fresh. 93/100

Champagne Tarlant La Vigne de Antan 2002 France
This is from ungrafted Chardonnay in sandy soils. Benoit's grandfather replanted this plot from 1953-57, and this wine was disgorged in July 2014 with no dosage. Complex with real intensity of citrus, pear and peach fruit, with hints of fig and toast. Very lively and complex with a hint of herbiness. Nice tight fruit with a bit of grip. Dramatic savoury profile. 93/100

Champagne Tarlant Cuvée Louis NV France
Lieu dit Les Crayons, 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir, 1999 vintage base plus reserve wines, 2 g/l dosage, disgorged May 2015. Yellow/gold in colour. Refined, integrated toast, fig and pear notes with peach and spice. Very rich and powerful with real purity and finesse. Complex and expressive. 94/100

Part 1, JL Vergnon
Part 2, Bruno Paillard
Part 3, Anselme Selosse
Part 4, Tarlant

See also:

Visiting Champagne Bollinger

Wines tasted 08/15
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