Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards 2017

Wine isn’t lagging far behind cocktails with exorbitant prices these days, at least in some bars. (Photo: Image via

I choose my restaurants on the quality of the wine that they serve, not only because I adore wine, but because a top wine list is usually an indicator of great food.

Wine can make or break a meal. Even the most anticipated dining occasion can be a lacklustre experience without great wine.

Australia’s Wine List of the Year awards, for 2017, have recently been announced. As part of the judging team, I have seen thousands of entries over the years, and it is encouraging to observe an upward trend in quality and diversity.

Restaurants are awarded a one, two or three glass rating based on the quality of their wine offering.

The wine lists are assessed on a wide range of criteria, including balance and price range. It shouldn’t matter how much money you choose to spend on wine; there should be great wine available at all price points.

A misnomer exists that you should never choose the cheapest wine on a wine list. Well, that is certainly not the case when ordering wine in glass-rated establishments.

When talking with top sommeliers, they insist that they want their customers to be happy with whatever wine they choose, whether it be the cheapest or most expensive wine available. They pride themselves on seeking out the best wines available at different price points.

This year’s ‘Australian Wine List of the Year’ crown went to Jonah’s at Whale Beach in New South Wales. Sommeliers Niels Sluiman, Christian Baeppler and team present a stunning international wine list, with over 1600 listings, supplied by an extensive in-house cellar of some of the world’s greatest wines. Diversity and depth are its hallmarks, and the range by-the-glass is spectacular.

But restaurants don’t need to offer encyclopedic lists to get noticed.

The ‘Best Small List’ (50 wines) went to Harvest in Newrybar, nestled in the Byron Bay hinterland. It is a thoroughly modern list with eclectic and insightful listings.

Chiswick in Woollahra, Sydney, picked by ‘Best Small List’ (100 wines) for its beautifully tailored list built on quality.

Queensland’s Cru Bar and Cellar picked up the award for ‘Best List of Wine-by-the-Glass’. And Victoria’s Stokehouse in St Kilda, rebuilt and reinvented after a devastating fire in 2014, picked up ‘Best New List’.

For dining in Perth, visit Il Lido, which picked up ‘Best Wine List, Western Australia’. When in Launceston, visit Stillwater, winning ‘Best Wine List, Tasmania’. And make a special trip to Mount Gambier to eat at Barn Steakhouse, winner of ‘Best Wine List, South Australia’.

Café Sydney picked up the all-important ‘Best Listing of Australian Wines’. ‘Best Wine Bar’ went to Love, Tilly Devine. And if you adore Champagne, there is no better place than Est.

For a full list of the winners, visit the Wine List Of The Year website.

2 thoughts on “Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards 2017”

  1. Toni Paterson MW
    Toni Paterson MW says:

    Great comments, thanks! Some sommeliers follow fashion. Others let their palate decide what wines to list and guide their patrons to wines that they might not otherwise choose. We need to be supportive of the restaurants who provide their customers with an outstanding wine experience. And let us be openly complimentary when they do!

  2. Greg Stevens says:

    Wow I really like the Chiswick and Harvest wine lists. It is also pleasing to see the Chiswick list even offers the likes of Mt Pleasant 2009 Elizabeth. Their sommelier is not frightened to include the “old school” (boring to some?). These wines are often overlooked and in fact unknown to the younger crowds (pass the Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot please) Considering the price you pay for these gems, it would even be worth thanking the sommelier for the introduction.

    The Chiswick website too is very attractive. In particular the photo on the home page.

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