Need a good Champagne Producer(s) to visit - Asking for friends

Dear Fellow Berserkers, some of our dearest friends are travelling to the Champagne region this August in honor of Kerrie’s 50th birthday. This couple has recently gotten bitten by the Champers Bug and are showing a real enthusiasm for the well made, but non trophy bottles. They asked me for a rec for a couple of good producers that would not only provide good quality, but a fun, enjoyable and relaxing experience. They are staying somewhere in Reims and said they wanted to have the geo fence about an hrs. drive from the towns center. FYI – I think their French is minimal but they are very charming and very socially engaging in the best possible way aka they are not ‘Loud Americans’. I really appreciate any insight or producer recs to visit on their trip. Thanks!!! Dale


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I’m visiting for the first time in April and plan on posting a little trip report, so maybe that will give them some ideas. So far, I’ve scheduled Larmandier-Bernier and Dhondt-Grellet, while Roger Coulon, Chartogne-Taillet, and Selosse all asked me to check back in about a month before my trip.

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Anton - wife and I love Ruinart - especially the non vintage with the occasional splurge for the vintage. If this is a good visit choice, I will pass it along for sure!

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As far as big houses go, the visit to Bollinger is fun. It’s not a grower champs, but Bollinger SC nails the “well made but not trophy” QPR matrix for me… Tattinger is also a fun visit among big houses and they did pour CdC (two of them actually, for us, though the second pour was unofficial because we were by ourselves). Salon is a great visit, but AFAIK you’ll need an intro from Vineyard Brands (via a retailer with a good relationship with them) to get it.

We also visited Leclerc Briant where they were nice enough but I thought a little less than generous on selections to pour. They do actually sell wine there which is not always true.

Lunch at Hotel les Avisés I’d say is a must. Selosse lieu dits are like ~200 euro off the list and we also got a Raveneau MdT for ~100 eur off the list. The food was also unforgettably good.

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I second Bollinger for the big house experience. Henri Giraud is also great if you like the style, but the tour needs to be privately arranged and it’s on the expensive side.

The choices would largely depend on what kind of experiences your friends are expecting. Are they looking for well planned tasting and tour at a posh tasting room with professional staff? Or are they more looking forward to intimate tasting experience on a kitchen table with a grower? The latter may take quite a bit of effort to arrange.

les Avises used to be a must visit but one should always check to see if the tour is available, as it is usually reserved for the hotel guests. Also, there’s been a significant price hike. Here’s a recent price list for reference:

INITIAL « Blanc de Blancs » GRAND CRU 257€
VO « Blanc de Blancs - Extra Brut » GRAND CRU 267€
SUBSTANCE « Blanc de Blancs » GRAND CRU 523€
ROSE « Brut » 317€
AY – Côte Faron « Blanc de Noirs – Extra Brut » GRAND CRU 367€
AMBONNAY Le Bout du Clos « Blanc de Noirs – Extra Brut » GRAND CRU 367€
MAREUIL/AY – Sous le Mont « Blanc de Noirs – Extra Brut » GRAND CRU 367€
MAREUIL/AY – Sous le Mont « Blanc de Noirs – Extra Brut » RP04 GRAND CRU 513€
LE MESNIL SUR OGER – Les Carelles « Blanc de Blancs – Extra Brut » GRAND CRU 367€

Certain bargains like Ramonet are still available, however.


This could work, but you’re getting close to ‘go time’ and so I wonder if it’s too close. I have always done Spring visits so summer is not in my experience.

So Dale, yes, I would do Vilmart. If they make an appt, you can visit and taste a # of things in the range (Rubis, Grande Reserve, GC and GCdO, I would guess). Vilmart is 20 mins from Reims. For me, this is stop is Champagne joy.

I’d also suggest Mousse, although now I think Cedric has changed the name to Famille Mousse. He’s in Cuisles, so within your radius from Reims. Making a range with a # of things, mostly Meunier driven, but the experience of hanging out with Cedric is a gas. Bundle of energy, fun, a well of knowledge, generous. He’s a great stop and I have some of my best Champagne memories from visiting him.

And perhaps Laherte Freres. He’s in Chavot, which is within your radius for distance. Great views, and the wines are terrific, for sure in the well-made category. The range is diverse, wines affordable. But again, the time of year. I assume Aurelien is out on the plots so not sure he can see people easily.

Jordan’s suggestion of Larmandier-Bernier can work, but it’s getting close to the outside of your radius, well down in Vertus. It’s a beautiful drive down that way and the wines are great.

And one wild card, the wines of Miniere. Coincidentally, this week I was emailing with Frederic Miniere about something I had tasted over the holidays. He is in Hermonville, so west and a touch north from Reims. They make very good stuff, the wines are generous and still have great energy. It’s a slower pace up that way, at least as I perceive it and I know they take appointments. Beautiful property, a chance to learn and taste with a guy who is really passionate about his wines.

All of these did (still do?) require appointments. These are small-ish wineries and will be without the glam of the big stops, if that works for your friends.


Dale, try this visual, it kinda pulls it altogether so you can gain perspective.

Thanks FM III, lots of good meat to chew on - I will pass it on for sure.

BTW - Supernaut came on my iPod running today - that opening riff, Bill Ward just punishing those drums - I know it was one of John Bonhams favs… great stuff that old Black Sabbath!

“I’ve seen the future and I’ve left it behind”

Funny, I had the song in my head today too. Yeah man, that song played loud is joy tonic. Love it. Gonna do that tomorrow.:+1:

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This. Anyone and Everyone who visits Champagne, with the intention of visiting some producers, needs to include Ruinart in their plans. The wines are nice, readily available in the States, and the visit/tour of their caves is breathtaking!


Thanks for giving an idea of the prices. I’m visiting (the hotel and restaurant) on my upcoming trip, and I’m excited to try my first Selosse (which appear to be way cheaper at their restaurant than what I see in retail in CA).


I echo many of the above sentiments.
Of producers not yet mentioned, Bereche has a lovely little tasting room, which is via appointment. Pierre Peters is also a very nice experience, I believe the refurbishments at the domaine are done.


I just returned from a visit to champagne and had a nice tour and tasting at maison Alfred Gratien in Epernay. A grand marque, but still feels like a small operation. All of their wines are raised in (old) oak cask, which is a rarity and makes for a vinous, textured style. The tasting consisted of four very generous pours, the basic NV and three vintage wines, among them the prestige cuvée Paradis.
The staff was very friendly and there is definitely no need to speak french.


Do they now sell Selosse wines at the cellar door/hotel? Maybe they were getting overwhelmed/annoyed with people asking to buy wine to go and just said “fine, you can buy it now … at retail prices?”

Ruinart, Leclerc Briant, and Tattinger were all great experiences.

Not to my knowledge, but possibly so. Hotel guests were usually (albeit discreetly) allowed a bottle or two to go.

The paid tour is definitely worth it, but there are better places to drink Selosse around Reims. I wouldn’t really go just to dine there if I can’t purchase a bottle to go.

Ruinart also has a Sunday brunch concept that I enjoyed when visiting last year. It was a fun way to combine breakfast, tasting and experiencing castle atmosphere. It does not include a visit in the caves, but that can be organized separately or you can visit neighboring Pommery.

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If going to Ruinart, make your reservation early. They fill up fast.