Are we all ready to say goodbye to 2020? Yes, we are!
The best way to cheer us up is Champagne. To celebrate the end of a very difficult and challenging year, we need a special bottle, so we have chosen a producer that never lets us down; Benoit Tarlant. Maybe some of you already sampled his bubbles when we selected his Cuvee Louis to send off 2014. This one is a millesime - vintage champagne from four small parcels of their estate.
In 1687, Pierre Tarlant began cultivating his first vineyards in Aisne. The family stayed put for almost 100 years before moving to the village of Oeuilly in 1780. At the beginning of the 20th century Louis Tarlant, then the head vigneron and mayor of Oeuilly, helped to start the Champagne Revolution that resulted in the movement for an AOC designation for the region, achieved in 1927. This was necessary to prevent a raging commercialization that was threatening the quality and originality of the wines, and inspired villages to restrict the then-widespread use of grapes from outside the region (and, in some cases, outside of France itself!) To be consistent with his beliefs, Louis swore never to sell a single grape to the big houses again, making Tarlant one of the first independent estates in the region.
The big particularity of the Tarlant Champagne, a tradition started by Benoît's father Jean-Mary in the late 1970's, is that the vast majority of the production (90%) is bottled without dosage. While the idea of Brut Nature Champagne has slowly but surely gained momentum since the early 2000's the practice was unheard of at the time, making this small maison a true pioneer in the region.
We like stories like this, when it is the passion that drives the vision; when love for what you are doing dictates your actions. At the end is the understanding that we need to find harmony with the land and the environment to achieve those moments of perfect balance in our lives. Here it comes to us in a form of tiny bubbles suspended our glass for a toast to the search for harmony.
Bonne année à vous tous!
La famille PlumpJack
About the Winery:
The estate consists of 14 hectares of vines within 31 lieu-dits of Pinot Noir (50%), Chardonnay (30%) and Pinot Meunier (20%), along with small amounts of Champagne's "forgotten"grapes" - Pinot Blanc, Arbane and Petit Meslier. From empirical observation, Benoît and Mélanie have singled out 63 parcels that they vinify individually each vintage, permitting unparalled precision in blending decisions for base and reserve wines, but also letting them highlight single vineyard expressions of their land.
In the vines, chemicals are never used and biodiversity is prioritized. Because of the Marne's extremely diverse terroirs, Benoit adapts his viticultural methods parcel by parcel, using the soil, grape and micro-climate to guide his approach.
In the cellar, the grapes, whole –clustered, are gently pressed and racked by gravity to Burgundian barrels, where each parcel ferments and ages individually. Malolactic fermentation almost never occurs but is not blocked: Benoît feels that through careful pressing, attention to temperature and the correct viticultural practices, Champagne's naturally cold climate gives them grapes with low PH and high acidity, a combo that does not incite malo. Sulfites are only added in microscopic doses at press and intermittently to casks of reserve wine. The wines are never filtered.
After aging six months on their lees the barrels were blended and bottled without dosage on May 4th, 2005.
The bottles aged sur lattes, on the rack, for 12 years and 11 months before being disgorged on March 26th, 2018.
An assemblage of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, the 2004 Tarlant l’Aérienne is a Champagne that is, in a word, enchanting. A pale gold in the glass with a fine bead, the nose offers lightly toasted brioche, lemon and chilled cream with a mineral, white chocolate essence. On the palate, a delicate mouthfeel with autumn apple, lemon zest, apricot and hazelnut skin are complemented by graceful acidity and minerality. The long, elegant finish with a hint of croissant crumb ends its vinous opus. A sexy tango of finesse and exuberance, this Champagne will leave one in a dreamy state, long after the last drop is savored.