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An Italian in Paris


Monde Italy

An Italian in Paris

Meeting with the young Sommelier
of Enrico Bernardo's restaurant Il Vino

Matteo Ghiringhelli, 24-years-old young Milanese, is Italy's Best Sommelier ASPI. Strengthened by this title, he represented Italy at the last Contest of the Best Sommelier of Europe ASI that took place in Strasbourg in November 2010.
His interest in the catering business grew as he used to work from his youngest age in his father's little restaurant in the Milanese suburbs. He registers at the Hotel and Catering Institute Carlo Porta of Milan where he gets a passion for wine, guided by Giuseppe Vaccarini.
In addition to his education at school, he will have training periods at the Grand Hotel Et De Milan, at the Palace Hotel of Bormio and at the Hotel Pierre, still in Milan, then at the three-starred Waterside Inn Restaurant of Bray, near London. His experience forges and enriches as he practices in various places as cellars, fairs and mass-market distribution. His carreer starts at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, which also has three Michelin stars, and where he works as Assistant Sommelier more than a year. He then rejoins La Villa Madie, one star restaurant in Cassis. Since 2007 he holds the position of Assistant Chef Sommelier at Enrico Bernardo's Il Vino in Paris.

A strong commitment

In parallel Matteo starts initiating himself into competitions. In 2006 he participates in the National Contest of the Ruinart Trophy, and in 2008 in the first edition of the ASPI Contest of Italy's Best Sommelier of which he wins the second place, and the title in 2010.
Which are the most difficult tests for a sommelier?
“The tests of the Italian contest”, Matteo comments, “all appeared to me to be quite difficult. I have especially been surprised by the cigar part that was not in the previous edition, and then by the coffee tasting.”
Of course, getting prepared for a competition requires an important commitment and strength of willpower, as Matteo showed when he represented Italy at the International ASI Contest of Europe's Best Sommelier where he successfully achieved to climb on the third step of the podium!

Matteo Ghiringhelli

Demi finale du Meilleur Sommelier du Monde, Matteo et Enrico Bernardo

“During the months before the event” Matteo tells, “I have been studying the theory 4 to 5 hours a week and spent my days off visiting the different vitivinicultural regions, or even participating numerous blind
tastings of wines and other beverages.”

Working with Enrico Bernardo

About the sommelier job, Matteo would say he appreciates the whole operational cycle, from the selection of the bottles to the creation of the wine list, until the presentation to the consumer. The aspect he prefers however is the service as it enables him to introduce a privileged relations with the customer.
To direct his purchase decisions, he travels a lot through the production areas, even the less famous, to learn the most of the varietals and the production. “However,” he explains, “I sometimes discover a wine by chance, or because friends sommeliers advise it.”
The varietals the young sommelier prefers are the Riesling of Austria or Germany for its minerality, the Chardonnay for its freshness, whereas he likes the white and red varieties of the Northeast of Italy. “Among the red, I love the Nebbiolo as it really expresses perfectly its terroir, as well as the Pinot Noir which excels by its delicacy, but also the Syrah so rich in colours, aromas, and exuberant in its structure.
I not interested in following the trend that the customers create in the service. But if by 'trend' we mean innovation in the production, then I see the positive side and I appreciate it.”

Thanks to his position at Enrico Bernardo's Il Vino, Matteo has the opportunity to live a very unique experience. In this restaurant, a sommelier can feel fully satisfied as he has a free hand to practice his job. The service can be a great moment, but also a weak spot: imagine a universe around a wine and surprise the customer can be extraordinary, whereas in other cases the customer will not let himself easily go into such an experience. “To have the privilege to work with Enrico means to have at my disposal an inexhaustible source of information. A side of his character I particularly appreciate is he is always available to explain and give an answer to each question. He also is a person who is very open to proposals and gives room to his staff.”

Projects for the future

Within a short term Ghiringhelli's goal was to participate, and if possible to win, in the International European Contest of the ASI, last November. He did not win the title but he brilliantly distinguished himself. In the long term however, even if he appreciates his current situation, he thinks that, sooner or later, he would wish to return in Italy. He would like to work in his country, but in a place as prestigious as Enrico Bernardo's where he could manage the same volume of top quality wine.
“Of course I will need to take hold again with the Italian reality,” Matteo concludes, “and be aware of the demand of the local customers. But I will never abandon the international contacts I introduced with the producers and colleagues of different countries. It is a precious heritage for a sommelier.”

Mara Cappelletti, pour l'ASPI

Traduit de l'Italien
par Sylvia Van der Velden