Wine director – Berners Tavern
Having started out with the aim of working in tourism, Montone sensibly decided that wine was his true passion and threw himself into the subject. The moment came, he says, after a journey to Montepulciano in 2008, a trip taken to celebrate having completed his tourism studies – whereupon he ditched that idea and went straight back into studying wine and hospitality. In 2012, he completed a sommelier course in his native Italy and moved to London in 2013, where he first worked at Aqua Shard. From 2014 to 2016 he found himself working as junior then deputy sommelier at The Ritz, before moving on to Locanda Locatelli as assistant head sommelier.
Last year he joined Berners Tavern as head sommelier, and was subsequently made director of wine. During this rapid rise in the restaurant world, Montone has racked up an impressive array of awards and diplomas, including coming seventh in a competition of Italian sommeliers in 2015. He was a finalist in the 2018 Taittinger Sommelier of the Year competition, and in November he achieved his advanced certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
As well as the joy of recommending wine and matching it to food in all its endless combinations, Montone says he is fascinated by what he calls “movement” in the ever-changing world of wine and all there is to learn about it. He is also pleased with the changes that the wine-drinking public has undergone in recent years. “Wine is much more accessible, and people are more willing to ask for recommendations and to try new things, rather than stick with what they know. Sommeliers are more approachable, and there are more wine bars than ever before.”
A fan of volcanic wines, Matteo’s attention has also been caught by the burgeoning English wine scene – but not exclusively the fizz. “Everyone is talking about English sparkling wine,” he says, “but I’m very interested in English still wines. They’re not at their best yet but give it a year or two for the climate to settle.”