Interviewing Christopher Lecoufle – Head Sommelier, Les 110 de Taillevent
Wine is part of Christopher’s DNA.
Christopher Lecoufle is a head sommelier at Les 110 de Taillevent London. His career in the hospitality industry commenced with a Michelin star restaurant. He was an essential part of the opening team at Les 110 de Taillevent London and now, he is the head sommelier at the same restaurant. He spared a few minutes from his busy schedule and shared some great insights about the business and industry.
Can you give us a brief background to the business and who your customers are?
Since we opened in 2015, we have always had a different approach with the food to other restaurants. Like our site in Paris, we are very wine led, so customers are very passionate about wine and are open to experimenting with different wines.
We have had the same chef for two years, but he takes differing approaches to the food - lunch to dinner can be different.
Explain your wine range and what you are looking to offer?
Our range of wines has grown greatly since 2015, and we are open to a host of different dynamic wines. We are a French restaurant, so we do often look for French classic wines. However, we also look to offer rarer selections and remain as open as possible, such as white wines from Slovakia to red varieties from Switzerland and Portugal.
What criteria do you use to decide what wines to list?
We try the different wines as a team and taste and discuss together. This is very important, that the team understand and are happy.
How has the range evolved since you started out?
When we opened in 2015, we only had 300 wines. Today, we have 1,500 wines on the list, with deeper vintages and varieties from all around the world.
How many suppliers do you work with, and what, in your mind, makes a good supplier?
We work with approximately 60 suppliers, and they communicate well and understand who we are and what we want to achieve.
Conversely, what is a bad supplier?
They don’t know you or your restaurant and are therefore not easy to support.
What is your average price per bottle/glass?
This is very hard to say, as bottles range from £29 to £4000. Wine by the glass starts at £4.
What is the next big thing?
To explore more exciting varieties of wine for 2019, and match this with the food. We are also focusing on a series of wine dinners, with a 70's inspired wine dinner in the pipeline.
Which countries and grape varieties are most in demand amongst your customers?
I think for us and with our French background, the most in-demand countries and grapes are French Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Any other emerging trends you've noticed? Are people drinking less/more/better?
I think the fact we serve wines by glass enables us to play with people’s attitudes to drinking and what we can offer our customers. By talking with the customer as they dine, explaining wines, they trust us.
How does that differ from the last couple of years?
Understanding the customer. When we opened, we knew less about the London market than today. We have grown our wine list by the glass in accordance with this new understanding and will continue to develop for the next two years.
What are the biggest challenges facing your business going into 2019?
Distinguishing yourself against competitors, especially within London.
What are the biggest opportunities?
To gain exposure around the world, with wines from across the globe.
What advice would you give anyone looking to open their own wine business?
Playing with wines by the glass is remarkable. It offers the customer a unique dining experience and gives us the opportunity to be creative. I think it is important to be creative, innovative and different.