With a focus on organic and sustainable vineyards, female winemakers and a unique bottle design, founder Nicolas Deffrennes is launching Le Grand Verre, a new enterprise that could revolutionize the way U.S. markets discover and enjoy fine French wines.
Deffrennes, whose was born near Côtes du Rhône in France, was transplanted to the Boston area after his wife accepted a faculty position at Harvard University. Inspired by the university wine club, he envisioned the concept of tasting and enjoying premium French wines without the need to purchase or open an entire bottle.
Deffrennes recruited friends Regis Fanget as the Brand/Artistic Director and Valerian DeJours as Chief Operating Officer, and Le Grand Verre (The Large Glass) began with a mission to create a collection of French wines, mostly from female-owned, small family estates.
Wine traditionally comes in 750-milliliter bottles with a cork. This standard-size bottle has become more obsolete, especially for younger consumers who seek options that better fit their lifestyles. Available in four-packs that range from $20-$30, each individual 6.3-ounce container is made of recycled, double-coated PET plastic that is impregnated with a nylon strip to help preserve the flavors of the wine. They are screw-top and slightly larger than a typical 6-ounce pour.
Pauline Neal Nadal, current head of Domaine Nadal Hainaut in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, was one of the first growers to join the Le Grand Verre venture. The chateau, built in 1826 and led by women for sixty years, farms over 86 acres of vines that were fully converted to organic growing in 2010.
With cabernet sauvignon grapes harvested in mid-September to ensure ripeness, the Domaines Nadal Hainaut Red 2019 ($24.99/4 Pack) expresses black fruit and spice flavors that pair well with red meat.
Winemaker Elisabeth Prataviera followed in the footsteps of her mother, who took over Domaine Prataviera in 1960. Her contribution to Le Grand Verre is the 2019 Domaine Prataviera Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99/4-pack), a steely wine with appealing fresh fruit and citrus flavors.
Bandol, in the Provence region of France, has produced some of the world's finest rosé wines for centuries. There are two fine examples in the Le Grand Verre portfolio.
Gerard Damidot, the only male winemaker, uses the mourvedre grape to create the brilliant orange color and bright flavors in the Chateau Val d’Arenc Rosé 2020 Bandol ($30/4-Pack). White flowers on the nose and citrus flavors enable this rosé to pair well with food.
Winemaker Ines Andrien contributed the Domaine Caylus Rosé Bandol ($25/4-Pack), a blend of syrah and grenache. The grapes are grown organically and offer a pure expression of rich tropical fruit and strawberry flavors.
As a unique growing technique, Andrien pipes music into the vineyards, meant to strengthen the vines. She believes that music inspires them like it does people.
From the esteemed Haut-Médoc appellation of Bordeaux in southern France, winemaker Laurence Dupuch works with her husband Stephane to create the Chateau Peyredon Red Haut-Médoc 2019 ($30/4-Pack), a classic blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot selected from century-old vines. Elegant tannins match with flavors of blackberry, strawberry and vanilla.
Providing a convenient and affordable approach to enjoying French wines, Le Grand Verre will soon be available in California markets.