The place:

The Tribaut family’s champagne house sits on the edge of the chocolate-box village of Hautvillers, near Epernay. It’s a bucolic medley of narrow alleys, flowerbox-clad houses and a Benedictine abbey where, allegedly, the enlightened 17th-century monk and cellarer, Dom Pierre Perignon, first discovered how to turn flat, murky wines into the sparkling elixir we all know and love. The village still swarms with wineries, but the 12-hectare Tribaut estate holds its own with unrivalled views and six inexpensive, quality champagnes, carefully assembled using homegrown Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.

The tasting:

On a sunny day, grab a table in the garden – a flower-filled den of romance with views over undulating fields of vines. Tastings are free, and there is no obligation to buy, but you probably will: Tribaut’s champagnes are that good. The Cuvee de Reserve Brut (a light, fruity affair with a suave finish) is a steal at £13; and the Grande Cuvee Speciale (£17 a bottle) is particularly rich, with fine bubbles and hints of lemon.

The lowdown:

G. Tribaut lies five kilometres north of Epernay on the D301 (88 Rue d’Eguisheim, Hautvillers 51160; 00 33 326 594057, www. It’s open daily (closed on Sundays Jan-Mar). Stay in the rustic Le Chene Plat B&B, outside Hautvillers in the village of Cumieres: simple, but homely doubles from £45, B&B (00 33 326 516646,