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Vin Chicago Blog


Meet 37-Year Vin Chicago Veteran Jim Buckley!

Vin Chicago Bio!
- Jim Buckley -

When we decided to start including staff bios in our newsletter, there was no question as to who would be featured first. It's hard to believe, but Jim's been with us for nearly 40 years! Starting in 1977 as a stock boy at our original store in Forest Park, Jim's wine passion developed quickly and in 1986 he was tasked with opening and managing our first standalone Wine Discount Center.

One of the hardest working guys you'll ever meet, Jim is as honest as they come, has a memory like a vault and possesses one of the most sensitive palates in the business – a critical thing when a big part of your job is sorting through thousands of wines each year to pick the small percentage good enough for us to offer. When not drinking wine, Jim's cheering on the Blackhawks, Bulls and Bears, and is a long-suffering Cubs fan. He's proud of his vegetable garden and enjoys cooking while relaxing to his favorite music. We recently interviewed Jim about how he became so passionate about wine.

What is your first wine memory?
My first wine memory is from my very first day of work on November 1, 1977. We had a Wine-of-the-Month Club at the time and one of my first duties was to refill the WOTM display. I remember the wine was 1974 Simi Cabernet Sauvignon. The regular price was $9.99 and as a member you received a 50% off coupon. You got a bottle of the wine for $4.99. I bought a bottle that night and had a few glasses with my dad a couple of nights later. We both loved the wine and I thought, hey this wine stuff is pretty darn good.

What is the most exciting wine you ever tasted?
Hands down a bottle of 1959 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. I had just bought my house in December 1983 and the following summer I was having my parents over to cook them dinner for the very first time. My neighbor whom I considered my wine guru at the time had just had a bottle of the '59 Mouton to celebrate a special anniversary and he talked about how great it was for weeks. So I wanted this dinner to be extra special and I sprung for $125 for the bottle at House of Glunz. I was just getting into Bordeaux, but more like in the $12-$15 price category. So this bottle was a huge splurge. The '59 Mouton was spectacular. Layer upon layer. Each sip exposed another nuance. It was a memorable bottle on a memorable occasion.

What's your favorite wine region?
I fell in love with Cote Rotie back in 1982. We were selling 1979 Guigal Cote Rotie for $9.99 bottle. This stuff actually had a flavor of bacon and who does not love bacon. Along with the bacon was black raspberry and mineral. The layers, depth and complexity were incredible. I enjoyed Cote Rotie but it became unaffordable as prices sky rocketed in the late '90's. I was in Rioja in 2003 and got to taste the phenomenal 2001 Rioja in cask. For the past 10 years I have been nuts for great Rioja.

What's the best part of your job?
I have always felt I have one of the best wine jobs in Chicago. I get to taste wine for a living. We compose our monthly newsletter with the 50-60 best wines we taste every month. Our stores are filled with cherries from every country in every price category. So when I recommend a wine to a customer I am basically narrowing down the hundreds of wines I taste every month to what I feel are the top two or three. Nothing beats the satisfaction of having a customer walk up to you saying "thank you for that last recommendation. What else do you like?"

Meet Advanced Sommelier & Lead Buyer Mike Baker!
Perfect Beef Bourguignon

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