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Vin Chicago Blog


Meet Advanced Sommelier Michael Matonte!

Vin Chicago Bio!

- Michael Matonte –



A wine guy to the core, Mike Matonte has a major passion for Italian wines and will totally flip out over a great Barolo. He joined us in 2007 at our Elston Avenue store and now manages the Naperville store and our social media. When Mike's not at the store, you'll find him studying for the Master Sommelier Diploma exam (he's already passed his Level III Advanced Sommelier test!), conversing with wine lovers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or hanging out with his wife and new baby!



What is your first wine memory?


My journey into the world of wine began in 2000 as a server at Timpone's in Urbana, my first serious restaurant job. I didn't have any knowledge of wines and remember the chef/owner, Ray Timpone, coming up to the dining room to taste us out on a couple of new additions to our by-the-glass list. He was asking the servers what they smelled in the wine. Answers started flying around like cinnamon, violets, cedar, tobacco and more. Not able to pick out anything like that in the wine, I stood in awe. That's when I knew I wanted to learn more, so I could talk about wine just like those experienced professionals.




What's your favorite wine region?


My first love is Barolo, making Piedmont my favorite wine region. There is something for everyone in Piedmont. Dry sparkling wines modeled after Champagne, the sweet frizzante wines of Moscato d'Asti, crisp and refreshing whites from grapes like Arneis, Cortese and Favorita, juicy everyday drinking reds from Barbera and Dolcetto and, of course, the noble and age-worthy Nebbiolo wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. Piedmont is one of the most diverse wine regions in the world!




Any special wines in your cellar that you're holding for a special occasion?


After reading about my favorite wine region, you might guess that I have some Barolo in the cellar. A few standouts would be Paolo Scavino "Bric del Fiasc" 2004, G.D. Vajra "Bricco delle Viole" 2005 and Vietti "Rocche" 2007. I'm also waiting for the right time to pop open a magnum of Cos D'Estournel 2002 that I purchased at auction about seven years ago. More recently, I've added 2011 vintage Ports to the cellar - in honor of my wedding year. These '11 Ports are stunning wines with a long life ahead of them.




What do you do when you're not tasting/buying/selling or writing about wine?


I enjoy social media so you'll often find me on Twitter and Instagram as @VinoMike. I also enjoy golf during the summer and playing poker whenever I can find the time. These days, however, most spare time is spent with my beautiful wife and our new baby boy - and I'm loving every minute!




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