Matteo Recommends...

Matteo Montone
World Best Young Sommelier 2019

Each month award-winning Sommelier Matteo Montone shares his recommendations on wine and the wine industry.

Wines made by Sommeliers

This week Matteo turns his attention to wines made by Sommeliers:

These past years have seen popular and award-winning Sommeliers start making their own wine. Once they leave the restaurant floor after serving, selling and tasting thousands of bottles, they eventually realise that they want to try and make their own.

Here are two great examples – and interesting stories. Both look to Spain.  Long recognised as one of the three cornerstones of European wine production, most Spanish wine was produced and sold in bulk, so has not received the same acclaim as most French and many Italian wines – but  with new wine-makers, modern wine-making, allied to developments in international cuisine, we think Spain offers some very good wines at affordable and very competitive prices:

FRANCK MASSARD  - El Mago wines

Last summer I was honoured to personally meet Franck Massard (UK Sommelier of the year 1996) in Terra Alta (Catalunya) where he produces El Mago wine. El Mago takes the name after his 2 children, Maya and Hugo.

Frank was a very talented French Sommelier. After many years spent on the restaurant floor he left  to pursue his dream to make his own wine. He fell in love with Spanish wines and started to work with small growers in Spain, especially in Catalunya.

El Mago has a very small production of around 10,000 bottles in Terra Alta, where Frank works with very old Garnacha vines, organically grown. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel.

The wine is fruit driven, showing aromas of fresh strawberries and cranberries. The tannins are silky with a refreshing mineral undertow.

I recommend to serve this wine at a relatively cool and fresh temperature of 16 degrees in a Burgundy Riedel glass, so you fully appreciate the lovely aromas.

Traditionalists might be surprised that I would match this with Grilled Salmon, served with olives and ginger sauce. Believe me: the wine tannins and acidity counterbalance the rich meat and oils of the salmon, while the  spicy flavours in the wine complement the sauce – always a more significant consideration when pairing wines and foods than the ‘colour’ of the ‘meat’. 

Franck Massard 'El Mago' 2017 can be found at Great Western Wine, price around £13.

DAVID SEIJAS – Gallina del Piel

During my weekly blind tastings I recently had the opportunity to taste a wine that I had  never come across before. I fell in love with it straight away.

It’s 'Mimetic' from Gallina del Piel.

Gallina del Piel is a project from David Seijas, former Head Sommelier of legendary El Bulli, the three Michelin starred-restaurant run by the Adrià brothers in Catalonia, which closed in 2011 leaving the food world in shock.

Like Frank, David works with local growers and selects only the best vineyards to produce his wines.

Mimetic is a Garnacha sourced from vines at least 40 years old, planted high up in the hills (750 m) in Aragon’s Calatayud appellation. The wine is aged 6 months in concrete vats.

The nose is fragrantly  floral, with sour red cherry and Mediterranean herbs. The palate is rich and juicy with bright acidity and savoury finish.

I recommend the wine to be served at a temperature of 16-18 degrees in a Riedel Burgundy glass.

I chose to match it with simple roasted lamb chops, served with potatoes and Provençal herbs. The weight and body of the Garnacha makes it a perfect partner for the lamb meat, cutting the fats and enhancing the meat’s flavours, while also naturally complementing the herbs.

‘Mimetic’ can be found at Vinissimum or Liberty Wines, priced around £10.