Champagne harvest 2015 – enjoying a sunny Friday at Champagne Tarlant en Vendanges

the core harvest team at Tarlant

As the sun climbed higher in the sky it became t-shirt weather as I pulled up to Champagne Tarlant. It seems it’s always sunny when I visit the Tarlants during harvest; maybe because Benoit, Melanie, Micheline and Jean-Marie are always full of love and light! Or maybe because I know I will drink a little biberon ;-) whatever the reason I knew Friday was going to be great when I gave Melanie a big hug whilst tasting a few delicious Meunier grapes of les Echaudées.

The Tarlants waited for optimum ripeness and started harvest on Wednesday with the Meuniers in Oeuilly. “The Meuniers are small and concentrated this year, full of flavour and will make wines with great potential”, says Benoit.  He adds“it is one of the best harvests we have had in a long time. We have a lot less stress in the winery than last year, the fruit is ripe and healthy and the pH’s are low.”

 

loading tbe press with Meunier of Les Echaudées in Celles les Condés

On Friday the Tarlant family also started harvesting in Celles les Condés on the Aisne, and we were there as the first grapes came in.  All in all they employ a little more than 40 harvesters, mainly of two families of travelers who have been picking for the Tarlants for over 20 years. Besides the family, there are another 6 people employed in the cellar as well as one tractor driver. The family has two 6000 kg Coquard à met incliné presses and every press cycle (sert) is kept separately in small tanks.  This year Benoit bought more settling tanks to be able to vinify in an even more precise way. 

small volume settling tanks at Tarlant

We joined the Tarlant family and the cellar staff for a delicious rabbit lunch, which gave me the opportunity to ask Benoit a few more questions about the growing season and novelties for this years vinification. “We mainly treated with plant teas such as chamomile against oidium and there were times I was worried about the oidium pressure. However as we kept up the treatments we did not get hit by the disease. We also have very little rot, a sign that alternative treatments do work”, explains Benoit.

There are two big novelties this year in the vinification. First of all the new cellar engineered by Jean Marie was just finished in time for harvest, which means Benoit has a lot more space in the winery. 

 

round Silice and Quartz amphorae

The second novelty are 5 round Silice and Quartz  amphorae. “The Silice and Quartz mix is finer than cement and has the advantage of less loss than clay”, explains Benoit. He already trialed one Silice and Quartz amphora since 2013 with Chardonnay and was really happy with the result. Now that he has 6 in total he will be able to vinify the 3 varieties and maybe make another special cuvée. Watch this space!!! 

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