Little Prince Wine’s head sommelier and curator
Charisma is dealt in spades by our head sommelier Laurent Rospars, who brings more than 30 years’ experience to our masterly wine list.
Laurent’s career in food and wine began at a young age: when he was just three, in fact. He started by trimming beans at his great grandmother’s Relais Hôtel Restaurant in the Loire Valley and by age 10 he was shucking oysters at the seafood institution Prat-Ar-Coum in Brittany for pocket money. Weekends were spent helping his grandfather produce and bottle chenin blanc and cabernet franc from the family vineyard, where he learned that the quality of a wine lies in the simplicity of its execution.
These early experiences sparked a career that took Rospars all over the world, working in kitchens in Europe, Hong Kong, the United States, the Middle East and eventually Melbourne.
After arriving here 30 years ago, Rospars headed up the kitchen of several of the city’s most revered venues including Rogalsky’s, Trezinis, and the Quarter Session before turning his attention to wine. Today he’s the sommelier across The Ryan Hospitality Group venues, including our beloved Little Prince Wine, a wine bar with an underground cellar (and now an online presence), where Laurent collects his favourite bottles, whether that’s drops from the group’s sister businesses, Mitchelton wines and Nagambie Brewery and Distillery, or things from further afield.
But more than just a sommelier, Laurent is a storyteller whose playful character and impressive knowledge bring wine to life and encourage palates to go where they may not have been before.
When asked what he looks for when selecting wine, Laurent says “I don’t really look for something specific…it’s about what you like, what I like, what that guy likes. It’s all about a matter of taste and food, if you’re going to have food with it.” In this respect, Laurent views his role not as an arbiter of taste, but rather a guide. He says “there are things I prefer, of course, and sometimes you’re guided by your nostalgia…but I’ll always look for what the customer likes and choose an appropriate bottle.”
From the other side of the exchange, his best advice for wine lovers who want to drink well is to go to wine shops and restaurants and speak with the sommelier. That and, follow your budget. “You can spend $16 on a bottle of wine and there is nothing wrong with that.”
And for wine enthusiasts who are looking to learn more about wine and perhaps start their own cellar? Drink widely and with curiosity. “The best thing to do is start travelling, and stop when you pass by a winery. Sometimes you might be surprised, good and bad. But, if you really like something, just buy what you like.”
Laurent recently started posting a Wine of the Week on Instagram to encourage palates to go where they may not have been before.