The word “Zero” scrawled across the label of Tarlant Brut Natural proudly announces that no dosage is added after dégorgement. It’s a relatively new experiment for the Tarlant house that harmonizes beautifully with centuries of tradition.
In the year 1687 Pierre Tarlant began cultivating vines in Champagne. 200 years later Louis Tarlant proved an instrumental player in the Champagne Revolution, helping to gain AOC status for a region whose integrity had been outsourced by the big houses. Swearing to never source his grapes to the grandes marques, Louis was a pioneer in small-production winemaking in Champagne.
Today Benoît, the 12th generation of Tarlant winemakers, follows proudly in Louis’s footsteps, practicing traditional methods while embracing the idea of experimentation. The Brut Natural is a perfect expression of what Tarlant is all about. Benoît balances Champagne’s naturally high acid levels without simply adding sugar, offering a terroir-driven wine that doesn’t cut any corners. Louis would be proud.
Typically after secondary fermentation occurs – a process that gives bubbly its effervescence by trapping CO2 in the bottle – a small amount of juice and sugar is added, known as dosage, balancing the acid. Benoît believes this is a cop out, like adding sweetener to coffee.
Instead of following the crowd and practicing merely acceptable methods, Tarlant goes to great lengths to give rich body and texture to its wine. It’s not exactly old-fashioned; it’s just good winemaking.
When sparkling wine advertises zero dosage the consumer can often expect high-tone, lip-puckering acidity that demands food and tolerance. At Tarlant, however, the juice sits on its lees for six years, allowing the wine time to mature and fill out. The base wine for the current bottling dates back to 2008. Additionally, juice from ’05-’07 that has been sitting in oak barrels is mixed in, contributing weight and a hint of oxidation. The result is outstanding Champagne that drinks well beyond its years.
The first thing I notice after popping open a bottle is a golden straw color that would suggests several years ageing. Following suit, the nose offers a tantalizing bouquet that bounces between old and new. Notes of toasty almond and hay bespeak classic Champagne, but the hint of oxidation reminds me of Jura or even Fino Sherry.
The mouthfeel fulfills everything the nose promised. It’s unmistakably Champagne: dry but not too racy, chalky, and rich in texture from its time in the lees. The acid is present and it adds structure without biting me in the teeth. It’s a food-worthy wine, but it doesn’t demand anything beyond pleasure and enjoyment. Then there’s that hint of oxidation, so singularly interesting. The wine has zip, but it’s balanced by richness and weight that feels aged and mature.
It’s the perfect pairing for small plates and celebration. Not to say, “Out with the old and in with the new,” but to embrace the two and march toward a hands-on, terroir-driven tomorrow.