Douglas Blyde says: “Urged by his wife to do so, Matteo Montone attended and won the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Best Young Sommelier in the World in South Korea just six days before the birth of his daughter, Gioia. The Milan born Montone had already scooped Best Sommelier at the GQ Awards months before, attending the ceremony with the head chef of Berner’s Tavern, Phil Carmichael, who also visits English wineries with Montone.
At Berners Tavern, which has such a compellingly ornate ceiling that diners ought to be given mirrors to prevent neck strain, the director of wine aims “to provide good wine for everybody,” hence the conscious decision to include a wide array of affordable bottles, as well as offering them the opportunity to learn more formally about wine.
Since joining the London Edition in 2017, Montone, who previously worked under Giovanni Ferlito at The Ritz, has expanded the selection from 250 wines to 900 references, including large formats. He oversees eight sommeliers who deploy core cuvées of Champagne to 130 diners via two trolleys “to ensure they have Champagne within two minutes of sitting.” Sparklers include the Ruinart range, three Dom Pérignon P2 releases by the glass preserved under the Genii system, and Steven Spurrier’s Bride Valley from Dorset.
With the design of the layout approved by the Edition’s brand team in New York, Montone’s list is inquisitive, touching China, England, India and Switzerland – including a white Merlot by Paolo Basso, the world’s best sommelier from 2013 – alongside big gun Bordeaux such as Haut-Brion 1966, often calmly-priced Burgundy, and a page honouring the venue’s friendship with Trimbach of Alsace.
New for 2020 are decanting stands which bring the more intricate aspects of wine service closer to guests. Montone, who is continually “trying to find space for a bigger cellar”, is also keen to educate guests via pre-dinner “how to taste” sessions in the upstairs private room, as well as offering more structured learning should they wish to attain level one of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
As the Edition opens new hotels in Reykjavik, Rome and Milan, Montone is setting his sites on overseeing the operator’s European wine programmes, though vows never to cease to lose focus on London, which he calls “the premier league of wine.” He will also be participating in the next UK sommelier of the year competition while studying towards becoming a Master Sommelier.”
Want to find out more? Read more about Matteo Montone and his journey here: UNFILTERED: MATTEO MONTONE, BERNERS TAVERN