Interview with Mario Matavesco
Investing in Fine Wine with Mario Matavesco
Have you ever considered wine as an investment?
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, you’ve likely heard me talk about wine. It’s one of my biggest passions!
Some of you may be thinking… “Okay Justin, but isn’t that a hobby reserved for the rich?”
Well, for most people it is. But what if I told you there was a way to explore the finest wines in the world without breaking the bank?
One of the coolest things about the wine that I’ve collected over the years is that it’s gone up in value. And when I sell a part of my allocation, it covers the cost of the wine that I consume. As a result, I get to do something that I love to do, for FREE! In fact, in most cases, not only am I breaking even, I’m profiting.
In today’s episode, we’re exploring all things wine. I’m talking with Mario Matavesco, who is an expert in wine acquisitions and investments. As the Director of the Wine Division at the Terra Rossa Family Office, he lives and breathes wine and advises high-net-worth individuals on which wines to buy and which to savor with friends and family.
Mario also puts together intimate wine dinners and trips for people from all walks of life. Imagine sipping the finest wines while connecting with like-minded individuals in a picturesque location such as Monaco or Bordeaux. It’s an experience like no other.
Mario’s philosophy is that wine is not just a drink, but a lifestyle. It’s about the people you share it with, the experiences you create, and the memories you make.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
✅ A beginners guide to start investing in wine, including sommelier secrets to finding deals and curating your own collection.
✅ Strategies for maximizing returns on your wine investments.
✅ How to use your love for wine to curate highly engaging and sought after networking events.
Pics Mentioned In The Episode:
Featured on This Episode: Mario Matavesco
✅ What he does: Mario Matavesco is the Director of the Wine Division at the Terra Rossa Family Office in Austin, US. He has managed wine interests for high-net-worth individuals, managed their cellars, and advised them on buying and selling. Mario is an expert in curating private intimate wine dinners for 4-8 people in their homes and arranges unforgettable trips to marquis wineries and chateaus. He now does this exclusively for Terra Rossa Family Office. He’s responsible for managing the firm’s wine investments, advising clients on wine-related investments, and overseeing the acquisition and management of wine assets.
💬 Words of wisdom: “We all know when we find somebody that connects with our passion, the relationship is effortless. And then if it turns into a financial relationship, well, how much easier is that?” – Mario Matavesco
🔎 Where to find Mario Matavesco: LinkedIn
Key Takeaways with Mario Matavesco
- How being passionate boosts your chances of success and fulfillment.
- Ditch the hard sell and focus on creating intimate and memorable customer experiences.
- Trust is everything in business.
- How Mario takes wine networking to the next level.
- Insider strategies for maximum returns on your wine investments.
- When and why paying a premium for your wine makes sense.
- Wineries, chateaus, importers…Mario’s top tips on buying wine and why you must pay attention to how wine is kept.
- How to score a bargain on a premium bottle of wine at Costco.
Sommelier Secrets to Investing in Wine with Mario Matavesco
Mario Matavesco Tweetables“As opposed to figuring out how to sell people wine, I focused on the other end, which was teaching people more about wine so they could go out and make their own educated choices.” – Mario Matavesco Click To Tweet “All it takes is half an hour in a room that’s too hot or whatever, and all of a sudden, that wine that may have been kept impeccably now is no longer the same wine.” - Mario Matavesco Click To Tweet
- Terra Rossa Family Office
- Mario Matavesco on LinkedIn
- Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
- Total Wine & More
- Château Mouton Rothschild
- Château d’Yquem
- Château Margaux
- Château Latour
- Château Haut-Brion
- Chateau Lafite Rothschild
- Chateau Montelena Winery
- Screaming Eagle
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti
- Blackberry Farm
- Bern’s Steak House
- Chateau Cheval Blanc
- Chateau Angelus
- The Pacific Club
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Read the Full Transcript with Timothy Jooste
Justin Donald: What’s up, Mario? So glad to have you on the show.
Mario Matavesco: Thanks for inviting me, Justin. Looking forward to it.
Justin Donald: Hey, this is going to be fun.
Mario Matavesco: I’m excited about this.
Justin Donald: Yeah. Well, you and I have had the luxury, the privilege of being able to travel all over the globe and experience some of the coolest things that life has to offer, tasting some of the most decorated wines and chateaus in the world. And so, I’m excited to share some of these experiences we’ve had together and even our upcoming trip that is going to be pretty epic here to Bordeaux.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, definitely. Pretty unique. Pretty exclusive. Definitely.
Justin Donald: So, for those that don’t know you, I’m curious how you got into the wine business. Like, how did you even figure out that you like wine in the first place?
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, it was interesting. So, I grew up in Southern California, and as a kid in the Newport Beach area, I worked at a really high-end restaurant there, and I was actually going to community college. I was going to transfer over most likely to USC and I was all pumped up, and at the restaurant I was working at, the owner was kind of very forward-thinking. This was back in the 80s when wine was just starting to take off in the United States, and he kind of had a feel for it. He’s like, “Look, I really think wine is going to get really big,” and he goes, “I would like to set up a serious program with a sommelier, a full-time sommelier. And most people back then, and you still see it quite a bit, most places could not afford a full-time sommelier. So, to be thinking in terms of having a full-time sommelier to run a serious program, which means a wine list that is a large wine list with maybe over 500 selections and walk the floor every night, it was pretty unique and I was very fortunate. So, we kind of talked me out of transferring. He goes, “Look.” He goes, “I think you’ve got the right personality.” He goes, “The palate part you learn, which was absolutely right that you learn in.” I’d like to go into that a little later on because I think a lot of people believe, “Hey, I’ve got a good palate. I don’t have a good palate,” but I just don’t think I don’t believe that’s the case.
It turned out to be a very good thing but he talked me into not transferring and to taking over the program. And it was great because I was doing great dinners, wine dinners. This is when it was just starting to take off and people were just starting to get into wine. And I would do wine dinners every month but I was also very fortunate that in Newport Beach, the best French sommelier in America since 1976, whose name was Rene Chazottes, kind of took me under his wing and he kind of taught me how to be a traditional sommelier but not only how to be traditional sommelier but how to put on events that were unique. He said, “Look, anybody can put on a dinner but what you want to do is you want to put on a dinner that makes people feel special.” And I think it was learning that early on in my twenties that I’ve kind of carried over through the years, regardless of where I’ve worked. And it’s really served me. And it’s been that creating special events with wine and wine-related things that really drives me. I know a lot of people like, “Oh God, you’re passionate about wine.” I am. I do like wine but it’s really using wine in a way that creates something special.
And not to say that I also don’t understand how sitting at home with your wife, sitting at home with a friend or somebody, and having a couple of glasses of wine that might be a $20 bottle of wine that’s very good isn’t a special event as well but I think every now and then you’ve got to go out if you’re into wine and do something that’s really, really special. So, I would do things like I did a 1961 Bordeaux dinner back then. But it was very interesting because what I did is I took two different bottlers at the time. Because back then, I don’t think people realized, back then huge chateaus weren’t bottling their own bottles, and it was less consistent. So, they would send their wine to be bottled. So, there was some variation in the bottle itself. So, I remember talking to my friend, Rene, about it. He said, “Oh, yeah, absolutely,” and I go, “Well, let’s see. Let’s put it to the test.” So, I got through 1961 Lafites, 1961 Pichon Baron, and some 1961 Mouton. And I got the same wine. Everything’s the same but they were just two different bottlers and the wines were different. There was a noticeable difference. And I think cool stuff like that is what people that are into wine like to enjoy.
And so, it was events like that. I did a dinner. I was very fortunate. Probably the greatest achievement of my life, I did a dinner with the late great Chef Paul Bocuse, and this was back – chefs were just starting to take off back then. And those people that know Chef Paul Bocuse, they realize he’s like the godfather to all these guys that are rock stars now. So, I really ran out of my way to make that happen. And I was doing this in the 80s back when wine was just starting to take off. And that I was very fortunate that as I did that for a while, then I went to go sell wine out in L.A. and Beverly Hills area with Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. And it was a great experience because I got to understand that side of the business, which is how wine gets to the restaurant, how wine gets to your retailer, and the process behind that. And that’s incredibly valuable. Something that has really served me now as my focus is helping people get the most out of their wine dollar and then helping them get the most out of wine once they’ve purchased it. So, I did that for 11 years and then I took some time off to spend time with the family and then I went back to actually work with my friend that was my mentor for so many years at the club in Newport Beach.
And it was great working with him day in and day out for a few years because I really did get an idea for his philosophy on how he approaches wine and it was very, very traditional. For those of you that have been to one of my events with Justin, I usually wear a tastevin, and I’m amazed at how many people really don’t know what that is but it’s great because it gives me a chance to kind of educate them on it. But that was something that sommeliers would use back in the day to taste the wine for kind of confirm that the wine was drinking as it should. So, after that, I kind of went out on my own and I started my own company, which was called The Personal Sommelier. And this is where I kind of took my experience in the restaurant business as a wine buyer, as a salesman, and an educator. And what I thought, what I kind of realized was everyone’s trying to sell you wine. And if you go to the Internet right now or you go to your email, you’re probably going to have emails from some retailers, “Hey, I’ve got this great price on this. I got this great price on this,” or you get something via text. And I didn’t see a lot of people really looking out for the person, teaching them how to get the most out of their wine dollar and to be mindful of like, “Hey, all these people are selling me wine. Are all these wines equal just because it’s the same wine?”
And obviously, the answer is no. Some are more reputable, some are less reputable, some are inconsistent. So, I found this really nice little niche in Newport Beach and Manhattan Beach of about 13 to 15 clients that had really nice cellars, but they needed somebody to help them, one, manage it, two, “Which should I drink? What shouldn’t I drink?” And a big thing is like, okay, maybe I was into this wine three years ago when I started to get into wine, but now I got around it. So, what do you do with that wine? What normally happens is people just let it sit there. And unfortunately, that’s thousands of dollars that will at some point go bad. So, what I usually do is say, “Hey, let’s take that, and let’s find somebody that likes it and let’s give them a, “Do you want it?” And guess what? You’re probably going to make more than you paid for it because you bought it a few years ago. It was a really nice kind of symbiotic relationship between my clients but the big thing that I did is I would sit down and taste with them, just teaching them the basics, how to distinguish alcohol, which is so important, how to distinguish engage acidity, which is so important. These very simple things that really speak to the style of wine that you like so that it was twofold.
Because usually people would say, “Hey, Mario.” I’ve got people who say, “Hey, I want to start a cellar. I heard you can help me start a cellar.” And they’d say, “This is my budget, let’s say $300,000.” And what I would say is, “Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we take about 30,000, 40,000, and get you the wines that every cellar should have in it? And then the more you and I taste…” and I would come over to their house, I’d go to their office, I’d show up with wine. I’d show up with glassware, a little bread, little cheese. And I would say, “Okay. Let’s assess the alcohol, let’s assess the acidity, let’s assess the fruit.” And once they get a feel for how to assess that, then we would say, what do you like about this wine? What don’t you like about this wine? And to me, that’s so powerful because once you start the most important thing about wine is when you drink you’d say, “I like it. I don’t like it.” That’s great. If you get there, that’s great. But what if you can explain or you can say to the sommelier that the server or the kid at Total Wine or wherever you buy wine from, “Hey, you know what? I tend to like wines that are a little bit more terroir-driven or wines that are a bit more fruit-driven or wines that have big tannins, grippy tannins, or wines that have polished tannins.”
And what I realized was it didn’t take a lot to teach them just kind of the basics of wine. And from there, once we knew that, then I knew how to build their cellar out. And it was very funny because I think of a friend of mine who started out. He thought he wanted Bordeaux. He’s like, “Oh, I need Bordeaux. I need Burgundy.” I go, “Great. Let’s get that in there, right? Let’s get the first growths in there. Let’s get some super seconds. Let’s get some great value Bordeaux in there, fourth growth, fifth growth, third growth.” I go, “Let’s get some of those in there. Let’s get some Burgundy in there, but let’s taste.” And after we tasted, what he found out is that he loved Rioja, Super Tuscans, and Australia. So, that cellar if I would have just taken his money, I would have done him a disservice by just putting the wines that he thought he should have in his cellar. And then he also does a lot of entertaining because of work. So, we made sure we had wines that are great to entertain with. So, it was this more hands-on approach. As opposed to figuring out how to sell people wine, I focused on the other end, which was teaching people more about wine so they could go out and make their own educated choices. And then I was also a reference for them.
And while I was doing that, I did things like I would come over with the chef and server and we’d use their wines out of their cellar, and we put on these incredible dinners for four, six, really no more than eight people. And what we found out was that was really a great way to take the wine experience to the next level or we could all go to a restaurant, we could all go to a club. We can now go here where there’s a big group of people, right? So, what they found out is if it’s friends, it certainly makes it more intimate. If they’re clients, important clients for people that they’d like to bring in closer, what a better way to take them to the next level than inviting them into your own personal space, your home? And then from there, they showed in the cellar if they’re like-minded people. It turned out to just be something that was really well-received and people really, really enjoyed.
Justin Donald: Hey, Mario, I got to jump in here because you’re spot on with this. I have found that inviting people into your home, breaking bread, having killer wine, having wine that has a story of how you came about it and why you want to drink this, what it does is it creates this depth of relationship, and this intimacy. And it really helps people to like really grow that relationship but not surface level. It just opens a lot of doors. So, for me personally, this is something I love doing, is having friends over, having people over that I’m trying to intentionally get to know better. Maybe we’re acquaintances but I think we might be great friends if we get to know one another. And I love breaking bread and having killer bottles of wine with them and a story about that wine and why we wanted to get into it and maybe why it’s a special wine for me and for the collection that I have that you’ve helped me with.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, absolutely. And it just makes it more intimate. What I’ve kind of found over the years, let’s be honest, we were on the Lifestyle Investor podcast here, right? You certainly want to give them some information but everyone’s trying to figure out how to do business with integrity and in a way that kind of you create connections that not only are financially beneficial but also are personally gratifying and what a better way than if there’s somebody that’s into wine, right? And what I found is that when you talk about people that have wealth, I found there’s more but three passions that I see consistently, which is wine, watches, and cars. Okay. So, I certainly can help with the wine but we all know when we find somebody that connects with our passion, the relationship is effortless. And then if it turns into a financial relationship, well, how much easier is that? So, I found that there are so many people that are into wine that really enjoy wine. And they appreciated my real easy, approachable style of life. Let’s learn about it. Let’s have some fun with it to find out what you like but let’s also be mindful that you’re going to be doing some dinners with some people that they’re going to want to see these in your cellar to show that you’ve got credibility as a wine person, which really, really helped.
Mario Matavesco: Okay. so I’m going to throw out. We’re going to add two pictures here. All right. So, one picture is of the one of you at Chateau Lafite Rothschild laying on the ground. Okay. And then the second is the poor Emily, the gal that was so gracious there that we joked around later when I was hanging out with her, she said, I go, “Is everything alright?” She said, “Well, everything was fine,” but she goes, “Yeah. The guy that was leaning on that was a little blah, blah, blah.” So, I’ve got somebody that wants to say hello if you can stop in and say hello. Justin, I’m not sure if you remember this gal, Emily, from Mr. Socks. She called you. This is Emily from Chateau Lafite.
Justin Donald: Well, hello. It’s so nice to see you again. What a surprise. I had no clue you were going to be here.
Mario Matavesco: She was just hanging out. Her and her fiancé came down and spend a week with Susan and I, and I thought it was ironic. I go, “Why don’t you jump on and say hi to Justin before you guys head back to Bordeaux?” So, anyways, and what I told her, I go, “Hey, Emily, we need to set something up so that you and I go out to Austin and do a dinner out there. They would love it.”
Justin Donald: Oh, we could do an epic experience. That would be so much fun. And, Emily, your chateau is incredible. For anyone that doesn’t know Chateau Lafite Rothschild, I mean, it is not only one of the most well-renowned wines and chateaus in the world, but this is one that carries some of the largest weight of any of the first growths which we’ll get into.
Mario Matavesco: We were talking about that and say it really is the first growth, right? It really is. When you think of first growths, they were always kind of number one. They have always been there. We all love Mouton. They came a little later and the story’s a little interesting because of the cousins not getting along too well. But really, Chateau Lafite is really the one, right? I know people stylistically they may but in terms of the reputation, in terms of the romanticism involved, when you say, “Hey, I had a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild last night,” even people that don’t know wine know you had something pretty special, right? Yeah. So, what we’re going to do with Emily because she’s here kind of unofficially hanging out with us. I’m not sure if they know. So, please, please, no #LafiteRothschild but I did want to bring her in before she left because they’re heading back to Bordeaux right now. And I said, “Do you want to stop by and say hello to Justin? And I’m sure he’d love to see you since we had such a great time there.”
Justin Donald: It was one of the best experiences I have ever had at any winery or chateau in the world. It is beautiful. And for people that don’t know the importance, well, it’s an elegant place, but this is a place where they’ve been producing wine for centuries, right? It’s not just like a few years. We’re talking back in the day of Napoleon, like completed his conquest.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, exactly.
Justin Donald: He donned them as one of the greatest wineries in the world. And most would consider Lafite at the top of all wineries in the world.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, absolutely.
Emily: Yeah. It’s an important heritage and an important legacy. So, I’m happy that you enjoyed the tour. Yeah.
Justin Donald: It was great.
Mario Matavesco: But your nickname is Monsieur Socks. I just want you to know. And I want you to put the picture up for people if they have time to download that picture and take a look at it because that is such a classic. And God forbid that Lafite ever got a hold of that picture, I think we would probably we’d never get invited back. She may get a little slap on the wrist, but all fun and it was just great. So, Justin, you and I will get together. I was going to chat with her and say, “We’re going to get up to Austin. We’re going to have a little fun up there with those people and we’re just going to have a great time.” But I’ll be up to see Emily next month. We’ll see her next month when you and I are there. And then, of course, I’ll be back and see her in July when I take the small group up to Lafite. Anyways, but I know you guys have to get going, so if you don’t mind, I’m just going to very quickly give her a hug and tell her goodbye and I’ll hop right back on. Is that okay?
Justin Donald: Sounds good. Thanks for jumping in, Emily.
Emily: Thank you. Bye bye.
Justin Donald: Bye-bye.
Emily: See you soon in Bordeaux then.
Justin Donald: I’ll see you in a few weeks for Avant-Première.
Mario Matavesco: On from here on out. Goodbye. Hey. Hey, guys. Do you guys. Did you get your receipt from it Emailed to me? Okay, You now have your. Which you call it on file. Yeah, but you now have to send me whatever. You need me to have them. Yeah. And I will send PJ here and I definitely. Look, I think we belong on the Christmas time. I got to come back again. I’m worried that we’re going to hang out. All right. Thank you, brother. Thank you so much. Drop between you guys are always of. Yes. Thank you. See you. Take care. Yeah, absolutely. All right. Just. Yeah, Sorry. I thought you would appreciate that, you know.
Justin Donald: That was awesome.
Mario Matavesco: Wasn’t it? You like that?
Justin Donald: Yeah.
Mario Matavesco: Well, the irony of that, right? It was so funny because I’m like, I go, “Wait a sec. I’m doing a podcast tomorrow with Mr. Socks, right?” Which is like, “Oh, God, I got to stop and say like…” I’m like, “It would be great.” She goes, “We’re flying out at about 2:00.” I go, “Great, I will get you and right before you guys leave and we’ll have some fun.” So, I thought you’d appreciate that.
Justin Donald: Oh, it was perfect, Mario. What a surprise. It’s not very often that I get a surprise.
Mario Matavesco: That was a surprise. That’s exactly what I said. I go, “He is really going to be surprised.” Go figure, right?
Justin Donald: And for context, I want to share with everyone and we’ll get this picture out so you guys can see it. Thank goodness I wore a pair of fun-colored socks, which I always do. I love fun socks. But what happened in Lafite Rothschild, you’ve got this huge circular room, which is they’re very well known for this room. They’re one of the only places, if not the only place with this circular room.
Mario Matavesco: They got a lot of flak for making it this way.
Justin Donald: Yeah. So, they kind of watched the trend but it’s so elegant and they have their crest right in the middle of this circle and it’s this crown that it just looks really cool. And I was like, “Ah.”
Mario Matavesco: It’s got the five arrows for the original five brothers that came and they all went to different places, one to England, one to France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. And it was funny, it was very like it was very majestic and Ryan goes or, I’m sorry, Justin goes, “Hey, Mario, get a picture of me.” And he lays and we’re like, “That’s actually pretty funny.” And we had fun with it afterwards but, oh, it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It was really just amazing that it happened because we’ve had so much fun with it ever since. And pretty iconic. You know, you’re pretty infamous at Lafite as Monsieur Socks.
Justin Donald: Oh, I love it.
Mario Matavesco: Well, for what it’s worth.
Justin Donald: I was laying on sacred ground and I didn’t even know that I was doing something I shouldn’t do but I’m glad I didn’t know because we got a great picture.
Mario Matavesco: That’s right. I’m glad I had the good sense to take a picture of it real quick and say, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
Justin Donald: Well, while we’re talking about it, let’s discuss for a little bit. You know, we can talk about, I mean, I guess there’s a couple of things to discuss. I mean, we had this epic experience, this epic trip to Bordeaux right after going to Monte Carlo for the Formula One race and took this killer private jet from Monte Carlo over to Bordeaux and then tasted some of the most amazing wine in the world from some of the hardest to get into chateaus. I still have friends that are like, “How on earth did you get into these chateaus?” which is so fun, and you got us access to Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild. I mean, it was an incredible…
Mario Matavesco: Château d’Yquem.
Justin Donald: Yeah. Château d’Yquem. I mean, what an epic experience among many other great chateaus. I’d love to have you explain to our audience here what the big deal is coming up with the trip where you and I are going to be going to Avant-Première, which is kind of like the most coveted event in Bordeaux. Really hard to get access to. So, talk a little bit about that.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah. So, Bordeaux is kind of interesting because I just did a tasting this last week where the 1855 classification was kind of what Bordeaux was based on and the 1855 classification is a classification that in 1855, Napoleon III, Napoleon’s nephew, he wanted to showcase at the World Trade’s Fair the best that France had to offer. He was a Bonaparte. He felt it was his duty to his family name to bring France back into its greatness and prominence that his uncle, unfortunately, had a hiccup on at Waterloo, right? So, one of the things he did at the World Trade Fair he’s like, “Okay, what makes you so great?” So, he went to the merchants in Bordeaux on the left bank, and he said, “I need a classification of your wines based on price.” You know, it was very simple. The assumption here is that the more expensive ones are going to be the higher-quality ones. So, they had classified these wines into five different classifications. And at the top, you had Château Lafite Rothschild, Château of Margaux, Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion, which wasn’t from the Médoc, but it was so good they had to include it.
And we can go into that a little later on, if you’d like, Justin, the classification itself. So, they’ve done things there the same way for hundreds of years as Justin said. All right. Like when we went there, we’d gone to some chateaus, some very nice chateau, highly rated chateau that I’m sure many of you have in your cellar. And they were talking about how they fine and filter wines that they use a certain combination of these things to filter it and they had bags. It was really well done. But when you go to Lafite, I had asked Michael, “So, what do you use to fine and filter your wines?” and they’re like, “Egg whites.” I go, “Wait a sec. You guys still use egg whites?” They go, “Sure. That’s the way we did it 200 years ago. That’s the way we still do it.” So, it was incredible to see how these traditions and the wines are still phenomenal, right? It’s amazing. 200 years ago, they were making wines. Sure, they changed some of the winemaking techniques, but a lot of the things are still the same.
And with the egg whites, basically, they would crack an egg. They take the yolk out, they give it to the pastry chef, and they would make something in the kitchen with it. But the egg white, they would whip it up and really emulsify it. And they put it on top of the wine in the barrel and then they roll it so that the egg white is kind of like this film on top. And it filters down through the wine towards the bottom of the barrel. And as that happens, it picks up a lot of the impurities. That’s amazing, right, that kind of tradition, that type of stuff. But that’s Bordeaux with you at the highest levels. So, the interesting thing about Bordeaux is that it’s very different. They do things very different there in terms of selling wine than the rest of the world. It’s a different system of power and who the power players are. So, we were having dinner with a friend of ours about two months ago, Justin, and I had an owner of one of the chateaus there. We were doing dinner and he was asking him, “Well, hey, I want to buy a pallet in the chateau.” Owner says, he says, “I don’t have a pallet.” And he’s like, “Well, I don’t get it. Well, I want this.” He goes, “No, no, no, you don’t understand.” He goes, “I don’t have a pallet of wine.” And you’re like, “What do you mean?”
So, I explained to them in Bordeaux where it’s out here, you could go to a winery and they hold all their wine. If they want to have a distributor, they can sell simply to the distributor. But they really control how much wine goes out, how much wine doesn’t go out. In Bordeaux, the year after the vintage, usually at the end of April, which is on premiere, the importers/negociants will go in, taste the wines, and before they’re even bottled. They won’t be bottled for another two years, right? Strike that. Another year and a half and they buy roughly 80% to 90% of everything they produce.
And so, it’s really the importers or the negociants that buy these wines that have the wines in their warehouses. And it’s kind of tough for people to kind of understand that because we’re used to such a different system here, whereas you feel here like, “Hey, if I’ve got a great relationship with the owner of this winery, I’m in.” Well, in Bordeaux, sure you could be in, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get access to a lot of their wine. If you want access to a lot of their wine, you really need to have a great relationship with the importer because they buy most of their wine in the cellar and they have it in their cellars.
So, what they do pretty much at the end of April, the importers/negociants will go to Bordeaux. They will have small appointments with each of the chateaux. And this is when they invite the wine critics, the media, and then obviously, their biggest importers. And then the importers do something very nice is they’ll take their “VIP,” like they’ll take a couple of their VIP buyers from wherever, right?
So, for example, in this case, the company is in L.A. So, they’ve invited me and Justin to go with them. And then their counterpart is in New York. He’s bringing one of his clients. So, the five of us will kind of go around and taste wines. It’s really a big deal, I mean, to get invited en primeur is pretty special. And it’s funny because they invited me and I can bring somebody else. And the idea, yeah, where you can invite somebody else, that’s why I call Justin. And of course, Justin’s like, “Yeah, we’re going to make this happen. It’s going to be great.”
So, the great thing is what we’re going to do is we’re going to be able to go and have these small, little intimate meetings throughout the week with the different chateaux that we want to buy from with the importer and meet with the winemaker or a family member or whatever and taste the wines in barrel. With these wines that we buy, that we go, “Hey, we want to buy these wines,” they won’t be bottled for another 12 to 18 months and we won’t take possession of them for at least that long. But the great thing is this is basically buying in futures is really what it is.
So, for example, a gentleman that went on the trip with Justin and I to Monaco and Bordeaux last time, 2015 vintage of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, he probably bought about 20 cases en primeur, and I think he paid about $385 for the bottle. If you look now what the cost of that ‘15 is, I mean, with $800, $900 a bottle. So, the idea is if you work en primeur and you do it, you can get the access and you can get it early on and stuff like that, it really is a way to get ahead of the ballgame.
And people do it for different reasons, one, because they love the chateau, so they align themselves or they buy early on from a retailer or something. We’re very fortunate that we’re going in there with the importer himself and we’ll buy some, but you also buy for investment reasons. In this case, obviously, we’re going to buy for the family office, the Terra Rossa Family Office, which is who I work for, probably buy some for ourselves. Justin will probably buy some for himself and friends and…
Justin Donald: You know, I will.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah. But the big thing is being there because it’s kind of a– where for four days kind of all the marketing marks in the wine industry, the writers and stuff like that are all, they’re tasting the vintage, and then we were fortunate enough to get invited by the importer. So, it’s a big deal, and the nice thing too is en primeur what I’m really excited about is that a case of wine is 9 liters. Any way you split up a case of wine, whether you’ve got 24 half bottles, whether you’ve got six magnums, whether you’ve got three 3 liters or twelve 750s, in the world of wine, people look at a case of wine. When you say a case of wine, it technically means 9 liters of wine.
So, the great thing is when you buy en primeur because it’s not been bottled yet, you can say, “Hey, this is how I want my case,” right? And I love 3 liters. I try to do dinners with 3-liter bottles because I think it makes the evening more special and I think it just really adds– the wine tends to age better in the larger format, and I think it just makes things more special. Once again, go into this idea that even though I really understand how important it is to find great wines to drink day in and day out that when it’s time to put a special event on, let’s really kind of pay attention to the details. And I think a 3-liter, a 6-liter, a 9-liter is a great way to do it.
And what I love to do is after you have a group of eight people, you have some 3 liters that you taste, then pull out a pen that right is on the house, and everybody sign it. And what a great keepsake of a special event of a special evening. So, the great thing is I’ll be able to buy as many 3 liters as I want on whatever I buy, so…
Justin Donald: The name of the game, by the way, in wine as an investor, I mean, certainly as a consumer, but as an investor is wine futures. To have access, you’re getting the best pricing, you’re getting the format that you want. And by the way, for those of you that don’t know, the larger formats are better from an investment standpoint. So, quality of wine is better because they age better. Therefore, the value increases at a faster rate. So, take three bottles, I mean, basically, however you want to look at it, you could do a magnum versus however many bottles or you could get a thousand dollars.
Mario Matavesco: Resale is definitely better. There’s always a premium on the resale because of that large format, because they just don’t make a lot of it. And I think what it is, I understand why people want to get 750s because you can try a bottle out and that’s important, that you get a case, you try a bottle out. When it’s young, you see where it’s at, and then maybe try a bottle out a year later. I understand that part of it.
And certainly, we will buy cases as well. But for a lot of what I do, which is go out and just try to create special experiences and exclusive experiences, boy. And then when it comes trying to sell them, if you did want to sell them, there’s definitely a premium because there just aren’t a lot of them out there. There’s very few of them produced year in and year out.
Justin Donald: And for those of you listening that, you love wine, you love to drink wine, you love to entertain with wine, but you also love the idea of potentially investing in wine as well, I have found that one of my hobbies, which is learning more about wine, trying amazing wine, I’m able to do for free because if I buy enough wine that over time becomes more valuable, I can sell a part of my allocation to cover the cost of the wine that I consume. And so, for me, I don’t necessarily have to make money. It’s kind of fun breaking even, but in many instances, I’m accidentally making money. My cellar has gotten pretty big with Mario’s help and finding the right deals as he’s my personal sommelier and manages my cellar. And so, we’re able to get these incredible deals. He tells me what bottles I should pick up more of or what maybe is a vintage that didn’t perform as well.
And so, now, I have this ability to pursue one of my hobbies and one of my favorite ways to connect with people and really just dive deep into relationships with people I care about. And I get to do it in a way with wines that they likely have never experienced before, will never get to experience, will have no ability, maybe, in many of their cases, to have access to this wine. And through investing in it, I’m able to break even or even profit through this process. So, thanks, Mario, for your help.
Mario Matavesco: No, look, I help out wherever I can, but I think you had a pretty good understanding of it before I came. But I’m glad I can help out wherever I can. But that is important. This idea, one of the biggest issues I see is people that buy wine, I don’t know, maybe willy-nilly, maybe somebody tells me get this, maybe get that. I think they get into wine and it’s like anything, right? You start developing a passion for something, and then you want to kind of buy everything.
And it’s tough because I encourage people, get a little education on it. For example, every time I go up to Austin, I try to get up there once a month, Justin’s, I go, “Hey, let’s put some people together.” And I do a very simple intro to wine tasting type of thing, and probably even something we can do even more virtually. I know we’ve done one virtually, but we can even do those more virtually just to give people some basic tools to help them make better decisions when it comes to buying wine, like for example, being on a winery’s list, right? That’s kind of a tough thing.
I really encourage people not to get on a winery’s shipping list unless it’s a wine they really like or it means something to them or truly hard to get on because what happens is once you get on their list or their club or whatever and you’re there, you get on it and they, “Hey, we’ll give you a deal.” In the long run, you end up getting shipped a lot of wine that you probably don’t like or there are a lot of wasted wine dollars that, with a little bit of insight, you could learn to focus into wines that really make a difference for you and you really appreciate and like a lot more.
Justin Donald: I love it. And something that I think would be really fun to dig into a little bit here while we’ve got the time before we wrap things up, you’ve got a bunch of tricks of the trade, and I think it’d be fun to share one or two of these that you think are game changers for people in the way that they drink wine and just deals that they can get.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, I think the big one, it’s funny, I do kind of this, I do a few different classes that I like to go to is classes that I’d seen really kind of resonate with people in general. And there’s one I call that just simple sommelier secrets. And it’s just kind of things that I’ve picked up over the years that really make a very, very big difference in just, one, buying wine, saving money, and two, once you get it, how to get more out of it.
And I think, let’s say the first when it comes to buying wine, I would say the Wine-Searcher app and we can put a link to it, Justin. But the Wine-Searcher app is so valuable. If you use it correctly and you understand its limitations, it really is a very powerful app because what Wine-Searcher does, they don’t sell anything, what they do, it’s a company based out of Australia, every night, their servers will scrape pricing for every single alcoholic beverage on the Internet, whether it’s wine, vodka, whatever it is.
So, every day, what you have is if you plug in Chateau Montelena 2007, you will get a list of where you can buy that right now today for how much. And that’s very valuable because what is a wine worth, it’s basically worth what you can afford to buy it for anywhere right now. Hey, I’ve got a case of this for this price. Well, let’s see. First thing I do is I go to Wine-Searcher.
Now, there are some limitations, right? So, first of all, it puts in every state so there are some states that don’t ship to your state. And the terrible thing is it always seems like those states seem to have a much lower price on that wine than what you can buy it for in your states. A lot of people are like, “Hey, this should be lower.” Okay, so be mindful of that. We should probably, Justin, at some point do a virtual class on just Wine-Searcher just to learn how to really master it so that you can really learn how to get the most out of it.
The second limitation is that even though it has prices, you don’t know the quality, right? And there really are. When it comes to buying wine, generally speaking, I like to think there’s three different quality levels and there’s three different prices, which are all fair at that quality level. So, at the very top is where you get the wine directly from the chateau, directly from the winery, or directly from the importer that got it from the chateau and they’re in their warehouse. And then, you know it came straight to your cellar, your house, whatever. And you know that the provenance or how it was managed or was kept is immaculate. And I’ll tell you, it makes a big difference. I encourage people to spend a little more money on wine, not necessarily look for the best price, but make sure that where you’re getting it from is a reputable retailer. Or more importantly, if you can get it directly from the winery chateau or whatever, you’re even better off, and I think that deserves a premium, right?
The second is where you feel it’s a pretty good retailer. Maybe not quite directly from the chateau, the winery, or whatever, or one of the top, top retailers, but you feel they’re pretty solid. Their prices should be lower. But also keep in mind, maybe keeping it at a cellar temperature was in constant throughout, but maybe it was in a minimal way that didn’t exactly affect the wine. But there may have been some variation that was kept but minimal.
And then lastly is really tough because I know a lot of people do this, they buy cellars and then they go online, and on Wine-Searcher, you see them, right? It’s like wine collectors, blah, or whatever. And with these companies or people that are selling wines, they went to a cellar, they bid on the cellar, they bought it, and then now they’re turning around and selling it to you. I think this is where you can kind of get burned because I love it whenever you talk to somebody about wine, I know about this wine, blah, blah, blah. Oh, it was cellared perfectly. I’m like, “Sure.” I mean, of course, everyone’s going to say that.
But all it takes is a half an hour in a room that’s too hot or whatever, and all of a sudden, that wine that may have been kept impeccably now is no longer the same wine. So, it’s important to make this distinction within CellarTracker. And that doesn’t mean all the wines you get from these retailers that are buying cellars are bad. There’s a lot of way– there are some that are more reputable than others, but this is the way I kind of like to break up the pricing. So, as long as you understand that when you go to CellarTracker and you put in a wine, you need to ask yourself what condition is the wine I’m getting, that I’m trying to find out what the price is. Is it top, medium, or lower end? And then their prices will be what you’re kind of looking at. So, those are kind of the two things.
And the last thing is that a lot of times, wine stores and retailers will leave a wine on even after they no longer have it. So, it isn’t the end all and be all, but it is a quick way to get a very quick idea of what a bottle will cost and what you could get it for.
Justin Donald: The Lifestyle Investor community is super spoiled because we have learned so much from you. We’ve had you do a virtual event for the mastermind. You came to our live event this past year where we had 150 Lifestyle Investor Mastermind members. That was epic. We did an awesome new world, old world tasting. And then at South by Southwest, I had you out and we did a couple of smaller– well, it’s funny, they were supposed to be smaller, more intimate tastings that we couldn’t keep small because so many people want to come. So, it’s like 18 to 20 people.
Mario Matavesco: Doubled in size, right? It more than doubles in size, yeah.
Justin Donald: And I just love that we’re going to be doing more of these monthly tastings. So, those of you that are in the Lifestyle Investor community, those of you in the Austin area, we’re going to be doing more this year, but we’re probably going to travel around and do some things also in Newport Beach and many other cities here in the U.S. So, those of you that are in the community, at some point, you’re going to have some sort of experience or exposure to Mario and I’m excited about that, especially those of you in the inner circle that are actually part of the mastermind. Mario, do you want to briefly– we only have a few minutes left, but do you want to briefly mention the hack that you have found with Costco? Because I think this is one of the best hidden secrets that can add tremendous value to the members.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, yeah. If you don’t mind, I’d like to touch on two things. I want to touch on the Costco hack, and then I also want to touch on the couple of Bordeaux trips that I do have, and hopefully, you can put those up afterwards. So, Costco, just to be quick about it, there’s kind of a long story into how I went about discovering this because of the company I work for and how we would sell Costco wine as when we had to, when we needed to sell it, and we had looked at every other avenue. But at Costco, if you go to Costco and a wine ends in 97 cents, it doesn’t matter the price, whether it’s $3.97, $4.97, $125.97, as long as it ends with 97 cents, that wine has been drastically, drastically, drastically reduced so that they can blow it out. It’s usually a one-off buy for them and they don’t want to keep it on their servers any longer than they have to. So, they’ll sell it at a normal markup initially, let’s say, by a couple of hundred cases or a hundred cases. But once they get down to about 15, 20 cases and it’s obviously never going to come back, they want to get rid of it as soon as possible so they lower the price tremendously, I mean, at least 40%.
And I think most people, when we’ve done these shows and have come back and said, “Yeah, I found it. I found this great deal,” this wine that was $40.97, it was really $38.97 or $38, and what you do, the way you know what the price is, is you use your Wine-Searcher app, right? So, you’re like, “Hey, this is $12.97.” Go to Wine-Searcher, plug it in, and then you’ll get an idea of how good of a deal it is, which is great. So, using those two together is a great way to get some great deals.
I believe that is the best, if you can find the Costco 97-cent deals, and I usually find one, sometimes none, occasionally two, and you never know what they’re going to be. So, they may be something you like or don’t like, but usually, when you find that deal, that is probably the best deal in wine that I’ve come across in terms of– or short of getting wine gifted to you.
Justin Donald: So, that’s a value add right there. And anyone could take this skill and use it across the board. This isn’t just wine, this is any product at Costco.
Mario Matavesco: Any product.
Justin Donald: But it works especially well with wine. And so, for me, I haven’t seen it a lot with the wines that I like, but every now and again, I catch it and I just buy everything that’s there. And so, it’s just a great way to even have a bunch of friends that know about this and just kind of let people know, “Hey, if you see it, buy a bunch for me and I’ll reimburse you,” whatever.
Mario Matavesco: And that’s usually what people do. Yeah, you let other people know when you see it, you go, “Hey, there’s some.” And then, usually, people are like, hey, why not, especially with sparkling wine and champagne, which you can always use and it always seems like they’re always dealing on that. So, yeah, absolutely.
Justin Donald: Well, I’d love for you to share about all the trips you guys do because with the Terra Rossa Family Office, part of the goal is these epic experiences with friends and family. And so, you’ve got this killer trip to Monaco for Formula One, Monte Carlo. You’ve got a couple of trips to Bordeaux Right Bank, Left Bank. You have trip to Champagne, a trip to Wimbledon, a trip to the Masters. I mean, you guys are doing all kinds of epic world-class, once-in-a-lifetime types of trips. So, if you can share a little more about that with my audience, I think these people would love it.
Mario Matavesco: So, the idea is they always have some kind of wine angle. So, we’re going to the Masters next week. Eight of us are going to the Masters. But the first night, because Augusta is such a conservative, sleepy little town, 51 weeks out of the year, there isn’t a lot going on there. So, I try to figure how can I jazz this trip up? So, the first night, we’re doing a dinner with all the first growths, Screaming Eagle and Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, right? So, that’s like, all right, people get excited about that, and then we got some passes to see the tournament on the weekend.
Justin Donald: Hey, Mario, just for perspective, because a lot of people might not know what Domaine de la Romanee-Conti is, also often referred to as DRC, but give them an idea. Most people would consider this the greatest wine in the world, but give them an idea of the price point of a bottle of wine because this is basically the most expensive wine you’re ever going to find.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah. So, this bottle, so the one I got, I did get one, there’s going to be eight of us, but this one’s about $12,000 a bottle, right? So, Justin and I had the cousin to this wine. We’ll talk about that on some other podcast, but yeah, it’s Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, arguably the greatest wine. Most people will say Romanee-Conti is right, nothing is better. I do tend to agree, but the price tag is also pretty ridiculous. I mean, I would say probably an average price for Romanee-Conti is probably about $7,000, $8,000, and then quickly goes up from there. And then, of course, Screaming Eagle, we all know, we all love it, those of us that have had it. And it’s going to be a great wine in the first growth. So, DRC is really– yeah, it’s incredible.
Justin Donald: Well, we went to BlackBerry Farms, and by the way, that is the second largest wine cellar in the U.S., only at the Bern’s Steak House in Tampa. But BlackBerry Farms has just an incredible lineup of wine. But anyway, they had many bottles of DRC, and many of the price points, so their starting price point was like $11,000. They had bottles that were in the $20,000, $24,000, $32,000, I mean, just an unbelievable lineup. But yeah, if you ever look at a menu and you see bottles in the high thousands of dollars, you can just look at the price without even looking at the name and this is always kind of like a fun little party trick, and just say, “Hey, what’s the most expensive wine on there? What’s the price point?” And people will say it, and I’ll say, “Oh, I bet that’s Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.” People are always like, “How did you know?”
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, exactly. So, that’s how we’re going to kind of jazz with the Masters, not the Masters needs jazzing up, it is pretty sacred, but nonetheless. And then so, Monaco was sold out. The three trips we have left are Wimbledon. We’re going to do the men’s finals in July. We’re going to do with Chateau Lafite Rothschild dinner. We’re going to do some other things along with that trip. But the week leading up to Wimbledon from Monday through Thursday, we’re going to be in the Left Bank of Bordeaux, once again visiting Mouton, Lafite, Yquem. So, it’s just a spectacular trip, kind of like what Justin went on, except he had Monaco at the end of the trip or at the beginning of the trip.
And then the other trip is the Right Bank of Bordeaux, which really, in a lot of way is harder to get into a lot of these chateaux, like Cheval Blanc and Angelus, but ultra-exclusive, and that trip will be before Monaco this year in May, the May 19th through the 24th. So, these are just trips where we go. We’re in the chateau, a lot of times, having meals with the owner, with the winemaker or family member, whoever it is. And it’s very intimate. And it’s a great way to kind of understand Bordeaux and it’s just a great experience. It really is, so.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, we’ll share a lot more of the information about the trips for anyone that wants just a world-class epic trip with an experience that truly is second to none for anyone that has any interest. And I can vouch for it firsthand, it is first class from start to finish and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, we’ll share some of that information in the show notes. Last but not least, where can we find out more about you and Terra Rossa Family Office?
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, well, it’s interesting. So, you would just go to our website at TerraRosaFO.com. And I work exclusively. So, I was the personal sommelier before with my company. But now, I just work exclusively for Terra Rossa as an added value to our “friends” and family and clients like Justin. So, yeah, I would go there. If you want any information through me, reach out for Justin, and more than happy to help you out, but I do work exclusively for them now, which is great. And Justin and I put something together, you guys can stop by or we can do more of these things online, which I think are really easy for us, I think would be really beneficial.
Justin Donald: Well, Mario, you’ve had such a cool career path where you kind of got started early. You worked in some different restaurants. You eventually moved up to working in The Pacific Club, one of the most prestigious social clubs and restaurants in Newport Beach. And then, from there, starting your own business, pivoting from this well-known, very reputable organization where you ran the wine as a sommelier there, but what’s also really cool is you were able to transition into your own business with just a handful of ultra-high net worth individuals that had cellars. And then you transitioned from there to now working on behalf of a family office with a mutual friend of ours who owns it that has a true love and passion and joy for collecting and drinking wine. So, so fun.
I can’t wait to head overseas and I’m excited not only for Bordeaux and all the tastings and buying some Bordeaux futures, but then we’re going to cap it off with an epic experience at a three Michelin star restaurant in Paris to close out the trip. So, plenty more that we’ll be able to talk about, and life to me is about shared experiences. And I think a lot of people, they scrimp and they save. And I think there’s some good aspects to that.
But at a certain point, I think one of the best things that money can be used for is to buy experiences with and for loved ones. And that’s really how I enjoy spending the money that I’ve worked hard for is bringing people together with once-in-a-lifetime experiences with food, with wine, with travel, and just enjoying life together. So, thank you for being here and sharing, and what a blast. Thanks for enabling me and helping my community have some epic life experiences.
Mario Matavesco: Yeah, my pleasure. And if I can help anybody out, obviously, that’s part of your network or whatever, just reach out for Justin, and I’d be more than happy to help you out any way I can.
Justin Donald: Thank you, Mario. And I love closing out the Lifestyle Investor podcast every week asking my audience one simple question. And that question is this. What is one step you can take today to move towards financial freedom and move towards a lifestyle that is on your terms, that is by design, and not by default? We’ll catch you next week.
Mario Matavesco: Like it. Thanks. Take care.