FrontRunners: Joie de Vin

Red carpets, klieg lights, photographers and media crews jostling for space, French film stars . . . no, it was not a premiere at the Cannes Film Festival; it was the opening night of Lavinia, Paris’ newest and largest wine store, which took over 1,800 square yards on Boulevard de la Madeleine this fall.

Lavinia is the brainchild of two Frenchmen—Thierry Servant, the former president of l’Oréal in Spain, and Pascal Chevrot, a consultant to Champagne Roederer and an entrepreneur—who first began to conceive the idea at a dinner party in Madrid in 1987. “Madrid deserved a better choice of wine than existed,” recalls Chevrot. It was not until 10 years later that Chevrot, with “some extra time on his hands,” called Servant and asked him if he wanted to join forces and launch a “universe of wine” in Madrid. They opened their first store in Madrid in 1999, their second in Barcelona in 2001, and now they are taking on Paris.

Lavinia offers a staggering 6,500 types of wine (including 2,000 non-French wines from 43 countries). Its 15 salespeople are all trained sommeliers, and the bottles are presented lying down under perfectly controlled lighting, temperature, and humidity—even Lavinia’s delivery vans are temperature-controlled to ensure perfection when orders arrive at front doors.

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