Veteran (but still young) Hi-Time wine staffer Veronica Castro's notes are spot on: "This kaleidoscopic, hedonistic, yet dry and racy Champagne has a bouquet of browned butter, squaw bread, lemon peel, red apple, along with slight notes of cinnamon, cherry, marzipan, apricot, and chamomile. "Cuvee Louis" is toasty and multi-layered on the palate, with high acid and a penetrating, dazzling mouthfeel. It will be fun to see how this Champagne develops. As for now, so far, so great." The wine critics agree with Veronica as these comments below attest.
VIEW FROM THE THE CELLAR 94 POINTS - "As I have said before, I love how the Tarlant family is willing to age their non-dosé bottlings for an extended period sur latte prior to disgorgement, which allows for the acids in the wines to relax prior to their being released into the market. Case in point, the 2004 Cuvée Louis Tarlant was disgorged in February of 2021, after more than fifteen and a half years aging on its fine lees! The wine is composed from its customary fifty-fifty blend of chardonnay and pinot noir from the family’s more than seventy year-old vines in the lieu à dit of les Crayons in the village of Oeuilly. The vins clairs are barrel-fermented and aged in cask for an extended period prior to bottling up for secondary fermentation. The 2004 Cuvée Louis Tarlant delivers a superb aromatic constellation of apple, white peach, warm bread, a complex base of soil tones, hazelnut, a touch of buttery oak and plenty of upper register smokiness. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and rock solid at the core, with beautiful soil signature, refined mousse and a long, complex and impeccably balanced finish. This is outstanding Champagne!"
VINOUS WINE MEDIA 95 POINTS - "A blend of equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the 2004 Cuvee Louis Tarlant is fabulous. Hints of orange peel, tangerine oil, mint, cinnamon, chamomile and dried flowers all grace the 2004. There is a gorgeous sense of transparency to the 2004, a Champagne that is at once vibrant, but also mellowed by the passage of time."
JAMES SUCKLING 96 POINTS - "What a grand champagne this is! Stunning depth of savory character, married to concentrated candied-citrus and dried-apricot notes, plus a slew of delicate spicy notes. Very long, driving finish. Still has so much life in it!"
JEB DUNNUCK 94 POINTS - "Begun by the Tarlant family’s great grandfather, the first release of this cuvée was in 1982. The 2004 Champagne Cuvée Louis Tarlant Brut is equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, from the bottom of the hillside with more impact from the river. The nose has rich notes of honeyed and fresh orchard fruits of apricot, yellow flowers, and sweet citrus, and there is a balance and interplay between power and elegance. The palate has the most concentration and length of the range, and it is structured and has a long finish. It unfolds with fresh brioche, smoke, and Mirabel plum. It is open and drinking well now, although it will certainly continue to develop over the next two decades."
"Cuvee Louis" is named for Benoit's and Melanie's great-great-great grandfather Louis, who was the first to bottle the family's estate wines. This is an equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, from a special single hillside vineyard called Les Crayons, sporting 50-70-year-old vines. This parcel features pure Campanian chalk, and it is carved and cooled by the River Marne -a feature that keeps grape acidity high. The fermentation processes were spontaneously carried out, with no malolactic fermentation, and bottled without dosage. Though non dosage (or Brut Nature) Champagnes are now in fashion, the family has been creating wines in this style since the late 70s (before it was cool). The 2004 Tarlant "Cuvee Louis" stayed on its lees for a costly 16 years, until it was disgorged in 2021. If you like flying first class for the price of coach, this "Cuvee Louis" is definitely your ticket to ride while supplies last.