The place:

On the voluptuous Cote des Blancs hillside of Champagne is the petunia-coated village of Oger, where Sheila, the Irish Setter, welcomes you to the Milan family’s property. The Milans are known for two things: top-notch. Grand Cru, Blan de Blancs champagnes, made from Chardonnay grapes; and grape-picking days. When harvest arrives, champagne fans become ‘workers’, with a laid-back programme of breakfast, a cellar- and pressing-room tour (including a tasting of mout, or freshly pressed grape juice), champagne lunch and a grape-harvesting lesson in the vines.

The testing:

Milan’s champagnes are all Grand Cru, so even the cheapest, the Brut Special (£15), is a steal. For a versatile champagne (good for aperitifs, fish dishes or desserts) with a peachy finish, ask for the Brut Millenaire (£16); or Les Terres de Noel 2004 (£27), a citrussy number excellent with goat’s cheese.

The lowdown:

Grape-picking days (£36), held in September, must be reserved. Tasting is free (it is presumed you’ll buy). The cellar tour is £6.30 Champagne Jean Milan is 11km south of Epernay on the D10 (6 Rue d’Avize, 51190 Oger; 00 33 326 575009, www.champagne-milan.com). During harvest, stay in a gite eight kilometres south of Epernay in Cramant, from £63 a night for four (00 33 326 579534, www.ericsylviacom).