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Interview: Nicholas Deffrennes of LE GRAND VERRE Wines

Nicholas Deffrennes of LE GRAND VERRE Wines

Interview: Nicholas Deffrennes of LE GRAND VERRE Wines

Le Grand Verre wines was created by three French wine-loving friends. Founder, Nicolas Deffrennes, Brand and Artistic Director, Régis Fanget, and Chief Operating Officer, Valérian Déjours is the trio behind this company with a distinctive mission, to embody the culture and experience of tasting premium French wines without the need to open an entire bottle.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Nicholas Deffrennes about Le Grand Verre.

Nicolas Deffrennes created Le Grand Verre, translated to "the great big glass," to allow anyone to enjoy fine French wine in a single-serve bottle. The revelation to do something like this harkens back to his days at Harvard University. As a member of the university wine club, he noticed a distinct difference in how Americans talked about wine compared to his childhood in France. A French winemaker will describe their wine based on the terroir, while the American oenophile describes their wine palate based on the varieties they enjoy. He realized the importance of being able to "translate" French wine, and he sought to find a way to share his love of French wine that would be approachable, fun, and exciting for American consumers.

His passion to celebrate French wine was only reinforced throughout his career prior to launching Le Grand Verre. Deffrennes served as an ambassador for French products while a consultant at McKinsey, and he later developed strategy for a French wine company. He also worked at a London-based financial company that went public on the London Stock Exchange and ran worldwide strategy for various South African wine estates while living in Stellenbosch.

Why do you think Le Grand Verre has been so successful?

Our goal is to simplify the world of wine by making it more accessible. We are creating the product I always wanted to see in stores. I enjoy fine wine but sometimes it's too much to open a standard 750ml bottle, which holds five glasses of wine! I have looked for half bottles of quality wines, but there isn't much available. With LGV, we're combining the convenience of the single-serve model (including unbreakable, on-the-go bottles), with the quality of organic craft wines. This sets us apart in the industry. Plus, the more wines you taste, the better you know what you like.

Do you have any favorite vintages personally?

It's hard to choose, of course, but Le Grand Verre Domaine Caylus and Le Grand Verre Domaine Nadal Hainaut estates were the very first wines made with organic grapes in the single-serve format. Le Grand Verre Château Peyredon is a classified Bordeaux cru bourgeois and Château Val d'Arenc comes from Bandol, where the very finest rosés in the world were born. Both wines consistently rank 90 points and above. It's amazing to be able to explore these wines for less than $8.

Can you tell us a little about the Le Grand Verre team?

Régis Fanget (Brand & Artistic Director) and I were classmates in high school, and we have the most unlikely yet complementary friendship. Régis went to study film while I went to study math, computer science, and business. He has always been creative and sensitive, while I remain a rational computer scientist. However, we both shared the same career purpose: Régis created film advertisements promoting the quality of French products, while I worked as a business ambassador for French products abroad. We like to say we have built a right-brain/left-brain partnership, along with Valérian Déjours (Chief Operating Officer), who joined later and completed our team trifecta.

We are impressed by the facts that you are marketing wines made from organic grapes and also by the fact that you have many women producers. What would you like our readers to know about your company's ideals?

I'm passionate about people. I take pride in building and growing a driven and passionate team. We combined friendship, hard work, and fun-not an easy task. The concept is unique in each of its dimensions: single-serving packaging outside the can - we designed our own proprietary bottle, fine wine in single-serve - which has never occurred before, wine made with organic grapes in single-serve - completely new concept, estate-run, owned by empowered women, and families - truly craft wine and unique. Plus, all the wines use zero pesticides. Nothing comes anywhere close to the combination of that and I'm very excited to wake up each morning and spread the word of Le Grand Verre!

Interview: Nicholas Deffrennes of LE GRAND VERRE Wines

Your slim bottles are so functional for taking Le Grand Verre along. Who was responsible for their unique design?

We actually started with a 3.3-oz glass packaging thinking of tasting pours. The feedback from consumers was overwhelmingly positive, with two twists: they wanted a proper single-serve package rather than a sampling, and they wanted something unbreakable. We rolled up our sleeves, designed our own 6.3-oz 'Grand' bottle, and created a proprietary mold. We did not want to make any compromises on quality or shelf life. We designed a double-coated structure so that the wine is protected from oxygen exposure, while preserving the aromas and freshness of the wines. The Region of Burgundy and the French State saw our unique project and granted us two grants to develop the concept. Thus, Le Grand Verre was born.

What has the public's reaction been to your wine club?

We have received overly enthusiastic feedback on the format and the wines. Thanks to our club members and ambassadors we are testing new wines and labels and get real live feedback. People love the convenience of the small bottles and are really surprised that the wine is of quality so this is not only packaging gimmick. This is our exclusive circle where we can regularly introduce wines that could not feature in retail.

What are some of your plans for the future of Le Grand Verre?

Our core mission remains to offer delicious French wines through innovative formats and to promote small organic and female led estates. Our core focus is to expand our footprint in the US - we have launched in New York, New Jersey, Georgia, DC, Virginia, Maryland, Rhodes Island and our next targets include Texas, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Florida and Nevada. As we expand Le Grand Verre's footprint, it gives more opportunities for young vintners like Inès Andrieu of Domaine Caylus, Martine Nadal of Domaine Nadal Hainaut, Laurence Dupuch of Château Peyredon, and Gérald Damidot of Château Val D'Arenc, to offer their wines in the US. We would continue to seek emerging talents to offer to you there. Help us spread the word!

For more information on Le Grand Verre wines, purchase information, and to join their wine club, visit Follow them on social media @LGVWines.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Le Grand Verre

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