The image shows the dining room of the Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée, with a focus on the alcohol bar.
In conversation with

Let’s talk wine with head sommelier Laurent Roucayrol

June 13, 2022

As head sommelier for Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Laurent Roucayrol is a true wine connoisseur who adores intriguing guests and convincing them to try something a little different. Here he shares his love of wine, including one of his favourites.
The image shows the sommelier Laurent Roucayrol in the Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée's room.

How is the world of wine evolving?

Since I started working in wine 26 years ago, the industry has evolved a lot. New production techniques are being researched and introduced all the time. This makes it an exciting area to be in, but the real test will be how these newer wines mature over time. It’s vital for me to understand what producers are doing so I can choose well for guests, guaranteeing that they’ll be delighted with the wines we offer.


What do you love most about your role?

It’s a real joy when guests are interested in trying something new and are delighted by what they discover. Most people tend to stick to the wines they’re familiar with or because they like the look of the label. I enjoy hosting blind tastings, making it all about the taste of the wine without any distractions – ensuring you don’t miss out on an excellent wine.

Tell us about one of your favourite wines

I think Clos Stegasta, Assyrtiko, 2018 is a very exciting wine. Assyrtiko is a Greek white grape that thrives in volcanic soil, producing an abundance of juicy golden grapes that ripen easily in the sunshine. This variety originally grew on the island of Santorini but the Clos Stegasta winery introduced it to the Cyclades island of Tinos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the first wine to be produced on the island for 3,000 years.


What attracts you to this wine?

The lively smell and strong warmth as soon as you taste it, which is a strong indicator of its terroir. The first time I tasted this wine I was immediately confused and disoriented. I had no memory of tasting anything like it. I couldn’t place the flavours and that made me curious to know more. There’s a real contrast between sweetness and salinity. Unlike many wines, it tastes different depending on the conditions of the day.

Overview of the Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée Rafraichissoir, softened light and lighted candles at the forefront. At Hotel Plaza Athénée, Paris

“It’s important to remember that wine is not an exact science. For me, it’s about encouraging people to try something new and sharing the stories behind each wine.”

Laurent Roucayrol Head Sommelier

The image shows one of Jean Imbert's most iconic dish. The is an full lobster.

What’s the history of this wine?

The viticulture is very complicated in the Cycladic islands because they have very poor quality volcanic soil, making it difficult for the vines to put down firm roots. There’s also a lot of wind and salt to contend with. In order to succeed, the winemakers select a cereal to grow alongside the Assyrtiko grapes to help the vines take root. They also use a water recovery system to ensure the right amount of water is supplied.


What’s a good food pairing for this wine?

This is the kind of wine that can stand up to full-bodied flavours as it has plenty of its own distinctive flavours. My favourite dish to enjoy it with is La Bellevue Spiny Lobster, served at our Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée restaurant. It really is a match made in heaven.

To meet head sommelier Laurent Roucayrol and enjoy a glass of chilled Clos Stegasta Assyrtiko or any of our other wonderful wines, dine with us at Jean Imbert au Plaza Athénée.

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