Italians do it better

Sydney Wine Presenters

Matt Dunne

Originally from the Snowy Mountains Matt’s career has taken him to Sydney (Aria), Chicago (Charlie Trotter’s) and London (River Cafe). After four years of working as Assistant Sommelier at ARIA Restaurant, Matt Dunne was appointed Head Sommelier in August 2008. The ARIA wine list has received numerous major awards, and Matt was awarded the Sydney Morning Herald’s 2011 ‘Good Food Guide Louis Roederer Sommelier of the Year.’ Matt’s role now as Group Sommelier for Solotel has him in charge of the commercial, creative and training aspects of the group wine program, which includes the award winning 1100 bottle wine list at ARIA Sydney and ARIA Brisbane’s 550 bottle wine list. Matt also writes the wine list at North Bondi Fish, and key Sydney venues such as Opera Bar, Paddo Inn Bar & Grill, and the Clock Hotel in Surry Hills.

Sally McGill

Sally McGill began her career as a chef, but moved to London where she entered the wine trade. While working with a small Burgundy importer, Fields Wine Merchants, Sally completed the Diploma at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and was awarded the “Portuguese Wine Scholarship’. From London Sally moved to Italy where for 3 years working in Umbria and Tuscany in wine retail and public relations, she enriched her knowledge and indulged her passion for Italian wine and cuisine. Sally returned to Australia in the early 1990’s, joining the Casama Group t/a red+white and Mezzanine in 1994 to manage and co-ordinate the imported wine portfolio. Sally makes regular return visits to Europe to catch up on recent developments and taste new releases.

Giorgio De Maria

Giorgio De Maria studied agriculture in Turin, graduating with a thesis on the production of summer cheese in the Italian Alps. After working in fine dining restaurants in Dublin and Tokyo, he came to Sydney, where he worked at Vini before opening 121BC in Surry Hills (Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Sommelier of the Year 2012). A sister venue, 121BC Hong Kong, opened its doors in 2013 (Best Wine Bar List of China’s Wine List of the year Awards 2014 and 2015). In 2014 Giorgio compiled the wine list for Billy Kwong (Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Wine List of the Year 2016). He is one of the creators of Rootstock Festival and owns a small wine import company that specialises in Italian artisanal and natural wines Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines.

Luke Collard

Luke Collard has worked in the hospitality industry on three continents over 25 years, with the last 12 on the Northern Beaches. He has managed Palm Beach Wine Co, Pilu at Freshwater, Jonah’s Restaurant, and was the Head Sommelier at Ormeggio at The Spit for two years. He is currently Head Sommelier at Jonah’s Restaurant in Whale Beach, which was recently awarded ‘Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List’. Luke regularly travels within Australia and overseas. He has been closely involved with the Sydney Italian Wine + Food Festival for the last three years, and publishes an occasional wine blog.

Matt Paul

Matt Paul graduated from the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne and spent ten formative years in managerial and sommelier roles in some of Melbourne’s leading restaurants working alongside celebrated innovators in that industry. The George Melbourne Wine Room, where Matt cut his serious industry teeth, fortuitously materialised as the meeting place with Michael Trembath and Virginia Taylor. Joining Italian wine specialists Trembath and Taylor as a partner in 2004, Matt drinks, cooks and drives Italian.

Ian Cook

Ian Cook graduated from the University of Sydney in the 70’s with a degree in Economics and a burgeoning interest in fine wines. Having resurrected the cellar at St. Paul’s College, Ian’s love of all things wine was born. He became the owner of Five Way Cellars in Paddington 27 years ago, a small store featuring premium boutique Australian and European wines. Ian was at the forefront of introducing Italian wines to Sydney, his shop quickly became a mecca for those looking for ‘hard-to-find’ wines. Ian has supplied many Sydney boardrooms and is in constant demand for corporate dinners, tastings and education.

Huon Hooke

Huon Hooke is a leading independent wine writer, based in Sydney, who makes his living entirely from writing, judging and educating about wine. A journalist first and wine professional second, he has tertiary qualifications in both fields, and has worked in wineries and wine retailing. He has been writing on wine since 1983.
He contributes to Gourmet Traveller Wine (for which he is contributing editor, a tasting panel member and a columnist), The Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald ‘Good Food’ section, Decanter, The World of Fine Wine and various other publications. In 2012 he launched the web and phone-based app,, and in November published The Wine Guide 2015. Other activities include chairing the biennial Vin de Champagne Awards and various other competitions, also working as a member of the judging panel for Gourmet Traveller Wine’s annual Winemaker of the Year Awards. He chaired the judging for Australia’s Wine List of The Year for its first 12 years.
He has won 10 awards for wine writing since 1984. In 2008 he was named Australia’s Wine Communicator of the Year. He is also a life member of Wine Communicators of Australia.
He has published 18 books on wine including a biography of Penfolds Grange creator Max Schubert. He’s been a show judge since 1987 and currently chairs the Australian and New Zealand Boutique Wine Awards, the Tasmanian Regional Wine Show, and represents Australia in the Six Nations Wine Challenge.
In 2017 he was appointed Australian co-chair at the world’s biggest wine competition, the Decanter World Wine Awards, judged every year in England.

Matt Irwin

Matt Irwin manages New South Wales for Trembath & Taylor. Matt holds a Bachelor of Business Hospitality Management and has been importing and selling some of Italy’s best wines for over 8 years. His love affair with Italian Wine, Food & lifestyle began whilst working as a Tour Guide throughout Europe. He lived in the Veneto region, meeting his now wife in Venice. They gave their daughter the middle name ‘Venezia’ in honour of the beautiful city and country they love.

Nino Zoccali

From opening his first Restaurant Caffe Contadino in Margaret River at the age of 25, to establishing such landmark restaurants as Otto Ristorante Italiano at Sydney’s Woolloomooloo Wharf and The Restaurant Pendolino and La Rosa in Sydney’s historic Strand Arcade, chef, cook book author and olive oil expert, Nino Zoccali has a career that spans many acclaimed culinary achievements.

Nino has been an integral part of an exciting generation of Italian cooking in Australia that has brought a new level of sophistication to Italian dining in this country. Nino’s passion for the great cornerstone of Italian cooking – olive oil – comes through in The Restaurant Pendolino’s dedicated Olioteca (olive oil store) which showcases a range of world class Australian premium extra virgin olive oils and which also forms the Restaurant’s private dining room. Nino has been judging Olive Oil in Australia at the state and national Olive Oil level for well over a decade and sits on the Australian Olive Oil Association’s national tasting panel. He is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost experts on Olive Oil.

Stefano Manfredi

For three decades Stefano Manfredi has been instrumental in defining Sydney dining, introducing regional Italian cuisine and wines in Australia, pioneering innovative restaurant design, breeding a new generation of leading chefs and creating awareness around sustainable produce.

Manfredi was one of the first to break the mould of clichéd Italian dining in Sydney, introducing Australians to new preparations and produce from the diverse regions of Italy while making Italian dining in Sydney more of a polished experience. He and business partner Julie Manfredi-Hughes, were the first Italian restaurateurs to offer a degustation menu in Sydney, design an open kitchen and pour extra virgin olive oil at the table to replace butter. They introduced a number of iconic dishes, that now make regular appearances throughout Australian restaurants and households, including proper risotto, many handmade pastas, burnt butter and sage gnocchi, roast suckling lamb with rosemary potatoes, pumpkin tortelli and panna cotta.