Marie Claire

Le magazine Marie Claire découvre le restaurant les Grands Buffets

Wine by the glass, who would have thought?

It is in the restaurant business that southern wine producers face one of their biggest challenges in the future : offering vintages by the glass in free distribution. At les Grands Buffets de Narbonne (Aude), Louis Privat has innovatively relaunched a fashion for wine as an aperitif with his Afterwork sessions, every day from 6 to 9 pm.  

He had already made headlines in 2008 by offering his full wine list at a price direct from the wine cellar. Louis Privat will be talked about again this summer with the launch of his self service wine, sold by the glass thanks  to an extremely unusual wine safe,  a special cabinet equipped with an amazing technology which, using nitrogen feed preserves the content of opened bottles intact. The owner of Les Grands Buffets de Narbonne, who already offers a around twenty wines in his restaurant (domaines Gauby, La Grange des Pères, etc.) is launching this Spring « Afterwork » in his Private Bowling Pub (in the restaurant basement).
Customers serve themselves using prepaid cards. “ In technical terms it is a huge innovation, because wine has a very short duration, in order to meet such a challenge a lot of space is needed, to be a well known wine restaurant, excellent quality etc. " explains Louis Privat, who with 240,000 covers a year served in his restaurant hopes to raise the wine list served by the glass to fifty varieties. For some weeks now, thanks to this special cabinet, pub customers can taste grands crus  on a self service basis. Investment costs: 40,000 €! As a result I can savour a glass of Domus Maximus Massamier La Mignarde (selected as the best wine in the world in 2005 by  LeWine International Challenge), from among a  range of grands crus selected by the best guides   (Hachette, Bettane & Desseauve).

Three measures
In the cabinet, 16 regional vintages, three measures (at 3cl, at 12,5cl and 22,5cl) costing from  3,60 to 7,60 € a glass. Sophie Veyrat, the house œnologist, who was hired some months ago has organised the cabinet into four main families : « easy wines to drink, bursting with fruit such as Château Le Bouïs cuvée K ; delicate wines with a feminine touch; elegant wines perfumed by the garrigue and wines that have built up an intense  bouquet  (l’Hospitalet de Gérard Bertrand, or the  Cuvée Juliette du domaine de Gabelas). »

For this is Louis Privat's latest challenge: relaunching wine as an aperitif: “wine everywhere else in the world is a symbol of excellence.  In France, the aperitif slot has disappeared from cafes and bars “regrets the restaurateur, who has put regional crus at the heart of his restaurant service. Les Grands Buffets, offerd 120 varieties of wine at cellar cost price, all from the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Louis Privat pushes the button further: for some weeks now he has been offering his customers a free bottle of wine served at table if they purchase 6 bottles of the same wine to take away.   “And if you leave without paying for your wine? », is his latest slogan. The purpose of les Grands Buffets is to " gain a position as more than just a restaurant, but as a place for wine" says Louis Privat as he serenely presses onward, amidst so many challenges.  More information on Afterwork at the Private Bowling Pub.

Iris Mour