Michael Madrigale hails from a Philadelphia area family whose five butcher shops and shared love of eating well left their mark. His food-centric Italian-American upbringing clearly prepared him for a life in restaurants. Now Head Sommelier at Bar Boulud, he headed to New York City after graduating from La Salle University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. Michael initially waited tables while looking for a job that would start him on his career path. At the time, he found himself gravitating toward the wine cellar, eager to learn more about the vintages he was pouring. "I could smell the differences in the wines," he says. "After work I would read books on the topic and taste everything I could - I made the decision then to immerse myself in the world of wine full time."
He landed a coveted position as a consultant selling prized vintages to passionate private collectors through the Burgundy Wine Company. There he met a winemaker from Domaine d'Arlot who offered Madrigale the opportunity to work on the 2002 Nuits St. Georges harvest in Burgundy. The experience was a turning point that helped sharpen his focus on wine and vinification. "This was extremely important for me," says Madrigale. "I needed to touch the grapes and be with the winemaker – In Burgundy I didn't break open the books to learn, I went right to the soil." During his time at Domaine d'Arlot, he met Daniel Johnnes, Wine Director for the Dinex Group (the restaurants of Chef Daniel Boulud). Their vineyard side conversations on wine and pairings were a precursor of things to come for Madrigale.
Upon returning to the US as somewhat of a Burgundy expert, Michael Madrigale accepted positions with Michael Skurnik Wines, Clicquot, Inc., and later Henriot Inc., gaining experience in various sales and management positions. But when the terroir called out to him, once again, Madrigale returned to France where he joined Butterfield & Robinson in Beaune to lead wine tours throughout the region.
Michael joined Chef Daniel Boulud's Dinex Group in 2007 as Chef Sommelier at db Bistro Moderne and later moved on to the group's more wine-centric Bar Boulud to manage a cellar of over 500 selections, dedicated largely to the Rhône Valley and Burgundy. Here he attracted renown and a considerable following among connoisseurs for launching New York City's first "Big Bottles" program, offering guests privileged access to rare and large format bottles poured by the glass. Today Madrigale oversees the wine programs for Bar Boulud, the new Boulud Sud and Épicerie Boulud. "Being in this business validates the way I grew up," says Madrigale, "knowing that real happiness comes from eating and drinking with people you love."
Recently, FOOD & WINE named Michael to their "Top Sommeliers of 2012" list.
Find out more about Michael on his blog.