The country’s best wine lists have been recognised at Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards, with Brisbane venue Cru Bar + Cellar awarded Australia’s Wine List of the Year for 2022.
Established in 1993 by Rob Hirst, his late wife Judy and Tucker Seabrook, Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards celebrate the depth of talent, dedication and sheer commitment of sommeliers and venue owners across Australia to build and maintain great wine lists and the cellars behind them.
Celebrating an outstanding 20 years in operation, Cru Bar + Cellar also took the titles of Australia’s Best Wine Bar List and Australia’s Best Champagne List. At the same time, the venue’s sommelier Chris Walker received the prestigious Judy Hirst Award for the Sommelier responsible for the winning List.
This year’s program saw a record number of entries, even compared to pre-COVID event years.
Chairman of Judges Peter Forrestal said: “We’ve seen the resilience of the hospitality industry in incredibly difficult times during the pandemic. Although many are still doing it tough, Australia’s Wine List of the Year in 2022 suggests that the industry is hitting back.
“Entries in the Awards are at an all-time high. The number of restaurants achieving a three-star rating exceeded 200 for the first time, and there is similar strength in the two glass ratings. Judging by the quality of the lists, sommeliers have never been better trained. If stocks were drained during the pandemic, they are back to normal now.
“Brisbane’s Cru Bar + Cellar has finally won Australia’s Wine List of the Year after 20 years at the top of its game. Cru first drew our attention as the winner of the Best List in Queensland in 2004. Since then, it has just about won every award on offer (but not Best Small List). Possibly Cru’s three wins of Australia’s Best List of Wines by the Glass signalled its intentions, and more recently, a complete revamp of the design of their list reinforced their claims to be among the nation’s elite. Their support of the fledgling Queensland wine industry is noteworthy. Chris Walker has Cru humming like never before: it’s a place to taste (around 80 wines) by the glass, to shop, and to dine with some divine Champagne and a lovingly cellared red. It’s deservedly Australia’s Wine List of the Year in 2022.”
Deputy Chair of Judges Toni Paterson MW said: “Are words enough to describe this fabulous list? Simply put, no. One must go to Cru, the ultimate ‘destination wine bar’, to absorb all of its vinous brilliance. There are 80 wines by the glass (80!) served using the Coravin system. And this includes Champagne. Not only is the list utterly stunning, but there’s also a description for every wine, so you can learn about the producer and use the tasting note to see if the wine is right for you.”
The most popular category entered this year was the Best List of Wines by The Glass, showcasing that more and more venues are allowing diners to experiment, learn and spend on quality wines and expanding the options for food and wine matching throughout the meal. This award went to last year’s Wine List of the Year Winner Ten Minutes by Tractor.
Other awards recognised on the night include the consumer’s Australia’s Choice Award run in partnership with Qantas Magazine | Travel Insider. Cottesloe, WA venue Il Lido captured readers’ hearts by winning the publicly voted prize.
This year, the judges ushered in a new recognition as part of the judging process – the Wine List Service Award. Over recent years, there has been feedback from industry professionals for an award that recognises and rewards those venues and sommeliers who demonstrate that they understand the critical importance of cellar storage, ‘by the glass’ preservation, and service of wines in exceptional quality glassware.
Therefore, venues that have invested in temperature-controlled refrigeration or infrastructure, preservation systems for ‘by the glass’ service, and premium glassware are given additional recognition to symbolise their attention to detail when it comes to wine care and service.
In its inaugural year, 138 venues entered this award, with 51 venues ranked as being at the ‘Three Glass’ level and therefore receiving the 2022 Wine List Service Award Seal.
“Exceptional service of wine is becoming increasingly important to the overall dining experience,” Australia’s Wine List of the Year Founder Rob Hirst said.
“Diners’ expectations have increased to the level where they anticipate a wine to be served at the right temperature and in the correct glassware. Even further, there is a growing demand to experience icon or aged wines without investing in an entire bottle. Venues have responded ahead of the trend – building the necessary tools in their venues to cater to increased demands from diners. This new Wine List Service Award recognises that.”
The Awards judging panel is made up of 30 of some of the world’s most respected wine talent. The panel is coordinated by Forrestal, alongside Deputy Chairs Jeni Port and Toni Paterson MW. Founder of the Court of Master Sommeliers Bryan Julyan MS is the International Chair, with 23 judges from Australia, and the balance from New Zealand, Germany, United States, France, Hong Kong, and Great Britain representing the international jury.
“The Awards remain as respected as they are due in large part to the calibre of excellent judges brought together by Peter Forrestal, Jeni Port and Toni Paterson MW,” Hirst said. “The global experience of these highly qualified wine writers, expert show judges, and leading sommeliers gives entrants a unique opportunity for some of the best and brightest to evaluate their wine lists.
“Finally, huge congratulations to all venues that have entered lists this year and have won Glass Awards. The passion and professionalism demonstrated in this year’s entries is a true sign that Australia’s hospitality sector is resilient in the face of challenging times and delivering a beyond world-class offering for diners to experience.”
Australia’s best wine lists
Australia’s Wine List of the Year: Cru Bar + Cellar
Judy Hirst Award: Chris Walker
STATE/TERRITORY BEST WINE LISTS
Best Wine List ACT: Brunello
Best Wine List NSW: Bennelong
Best Wine List QLD: Bella Venezia
Best Wine List SA: Fishbank
Best Wines List TAS: Fico
Best Wine List VIC: Cutler & Co.
Best Wine List WA: Shorehouse
TYPE OF TRADE AWARD WINNERS
Best City Restaurant Wine List: Bennelong
Best Club Restaurant Wine List: Chu by China Doll
Best Country Restaurant Wine List: Settlers Tavern
Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List: Altitude
Best Pub Restaurant Wine List: Lamaro’s
Best Wine Bar List: Cru Bar + Cellar
CATEGORY AWARD WINNERS
The Tony Hitchin Award (Best New List): Brunello
Best Wine List (50 Wines): Congress
Best Wine List (100 Wines): Firedoor
Best Wine List (200 Wines): China Doll
Best List of Wines by The Glass: Ten Minutes by Tractor
Best Food & Wine Matching List: Pendolino
Best Champagne List: Cru Bar + Cellar
Best Sparkling List: Shorehouse
Best Non-Alcoholic List: Bistro Sociale
Best Aperitif List: de Vine Food & Wine
Best Digestif List: Charred Kitchen & Bar
Best Sake List: Tsunami
Best Beer List: Cookie
Best Listing of a Region’s Wines: Stillwater
Best Listing of Australian Wines: Altitude & Bennelong
Best Listing of ACT Wines: Brunello
Best Listing of NSW Wines: Charred Kitchen & Bar
Best Listing of SA Wines: The Salopian Inn
Best Listing of TAS Wines: Stillwater
Best Listing of VIC Wines: Pt Leo Estate
Best Listing of WA Wines: Mojo’s Kitchen
Best Wine List – Sommelier’s Choice: Le Rebelle (Sarah Atkinson) & Where’s Nick (Bridget Raffal)
Best Wine List – Australia’s Choice: Il Lido
All winners of Australia’s Wine List of the Year are published at www.winelistoftheyear.com.au