4 top sommeliers choose Vine Trail wines

In the September Imbibe Champagne Special 2011, Jane Parkinson asks 4 top sommeliers which grower champagnes are their favourites now and why. 3 of them chose Vine Trail wines:

Edouard Oger, Head Sommelier at Gidleigh Park in Devon on Larmandier-Bernier

"My favourite grower is Larmandier-Bernier. I really like the style of the Vieille Vigne de Cramant Grand Cru 2004, which is rich and powerful but still super-pure and mineral-driven at the same time. Also, the Rosé de Saignée Premier Cru is one of the greatest rosés I have ever tasted. It's very rich and unusual. I usually describe it as being more or less like Marmite because you either love it or hate it!"

Why do they work for your restaurant?

"Grower champagnes are important because they give outstanding quality at a very competitive price and they also give people the opportunity to try new wines that they haven't seen before. Part of the ethos at Gidleigh Park has always been to use smaller, high quality producers whenever possible and this also reflects on my wine list with a fair amount of biodynamic wine growers too."

Andrea Briccarello, Head Sommelier at Galvin La Chapelle, London on Larmandier-Bernier, Benoit Lahaye and Chartogne-Taillet

"There are a number of grower champagnes so it is hard to choose a favourite. I like Larmandier-Bernier, Benoit Lahaye and Chartogne Taillet - just a few names that I work with. I've chosen to list them because I believe in the fact that they're a family-run business in top vineyard sites (the majority are usually in premier or grand cru sites)."

"Small growers have been vital to me in the last two wine lists that I have worked with (first at Corrigan's and now at Galvin la Chapelle). At first I took it as a challenge and a lot of guests didn't approve of my choices; but to be honest, in the end I had to force them to go for it - as grower champagnes were the only champagnes available on the list. So it was a simple case of try it or leave it!"

Why do they work for your restaurant?

"On my lists over the years I've always tried to offer small, hand-crafted, organically produced wines, so those smaller growers fit the bill perfectly as not only do they bring lots of character to the wine list but they provide a challenge to my sommelier team."

Laure Patry, Head Sommelier at Pollen Street Social, London on Jérôme Prévost

"My favourite grower is Jérôme Prévost. Prévost is different for several reasons. Firstly, he only uses Pinot Meunier and has a different approach to winemaking compared to all the others in Champagne. Secondly, he doesn't add any dosage, which in my opinion makes it easier for the champagne to complement a meal. Rather than just enjoying champagne as an aperitif or to set off a dessert, his champagne is stylistically more like a wine and needs a little time to open up. When I recommend his wine and explain his style to guests, I recommend that it is decanted as by doing this it will open up. Of course, you will lose a little of the fizziness, but it's more the character of the wine that we are looking for."

Why do they work for your restaurant?

"I would definitely love to list even more grower champagnes at Pollen Street Social. I probably had a larger selection the last restaurant I worked at but the wine list was double the size of the one I have now. However, I'm sure I'll list more in the future because I think Pollen Street Social is very suited to growers champagnes it's a continuation of the way in which we use small producers when sourcing our food."