Here are the best wine lists in Australia

Bentley sommelier & co-owner Nick Hildebrandt

Matt Moran’s Brisbane fine diner, Aria, has the best wine list in Australia, according to the annual Wine List of the Year Awards.

It’s the first time the accolade, set up 25 years ago by industry legend Rob Hirst, has gone to a Queensland restaurant.

Aria Brisbane’s sommelier, Ian Trinkle received the Judy Hirst Award, presented in memory of Hirst’s wife, herself a passionate advocate for the industry.

Awards co-chairman Peter Forrestal said the win for Aria demonstrated dining in Brisbane was now up there with the best in the country.

“Since it opened in 2009, the Aria list while similar in style and structure to its Sydney sibling, gives unique support to the fledging Queensland industry as well as highlighting the best Australia has to offer,” he said.

“Like few others, it balances the cutting edge and the established; embracing new trends while celebrating old favourites. Thoughtful curating has gradually refined an outstanding list which has morphed into Australia’s finest in 2018.”

Aria Brisbane now has 1,040 wines on its list with 39 by the glass.

“There’s an embracing of the new darlings – white and red Jura, Beaujolais and Sicily – amazing depth in the classic regions of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Barolo, and the Rhone – as well as a redefining of Australia’s classic reds,” Forrestal said.

The annual drinks awards for the best in Australian hospitality are judged by a 30-strong panel that includes Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine, wine communicators and previous award winners.

Melbourne sommelier David Lawler, who spent a decade working for Rockpool, and recently retired as President of Sommeliers Australia was singled out for his lifelong commitment to hospitality with entry into the Wine List of the Year Awards Hall of Fame, alongside Merivale’s Franck Moreau.

Sydney sommelier Nick Hildebrandt, co-owner of Bentley, Cirrus, Monopole and Yellow, received the Sommeliers Choice Award.

Bentley itself was recognised for having the Best List Of Wine By The Glass, a category Rob Hirst said was the most highly contested among the record 325 establishments entering this year’s awards.

The best list in NSW went to Merivale fine diner Est, while Melbourne’s Bar Liberty was named Victoria’s best, as well as taking out the best wine bar list.

Another of Matt Moran’s restaurants, Chiswick in Woollahra, won best small list under 100 wines, while regional NSW restaurant Harvest, in the hinterland of Byron Bay, won best small list under 50 wines.

Deputy Chair of Judges, Jeni Port said that among the trends they saw in 2018 was how well supported small producers are on Australian wine lists and how regional restaurants championed their local winemakers.

Port said there was also a growing focus on regionality in city restaurants that is more supportive of wines produced in their home state.

“Wine-by-the-glass lists have improved with a wide range of varietals available – with wine preserver Coravin used in many restaurants,” she said, adding that there also a noticeable increase in the prevalence of varietals such as Gamay, Beaujolais, Chenin Blanc, Rose, Prosecco — a trend that began to emerge last year.

The full list of winners is below and can also be viewed online at Wine List of the Year. They’ll also feature new edition of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine, which goes on sale July 25.

Major winners

2018 Wine List of The Year: Aria, Brisbane
Judy Hirst Award: Ian Trinkle

Best Wine List ACT: Italian & Sons,
Best Wine List NSW: Est
Best Wine List NT: The Stone House
Best Wine List QLD: Blackbird
Best Wine List SA: Crafers Hotel
Best Wine List TAS: Stillwater
Best Wine List VIC: Bar Liberty
Best Wine List WA: Mayfair Lane

Class winners

Best City Restaurant Wine List:Aria, Brisbane, QLD
Best Country Restaurant Wine List: The Barn Steakhouse, SA
Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List: Bert’s, NSW
Best Pub Restaurant Wine List: Crafers Hotel, SA
Best Club Restaurant Wine List: Newcastle Club, NSW
Best Wine Bar List:Bar Liberty, VIC
Best New List: Dear Sainte Eloise, NSW
Best Small List (Max 50 Wines): Harvest, NSW
Best Small List (Max 100 Wines): Chiswick, Woollahra, NSW
Best Food & Wine Matching List: Brae, VIC
Best List Of Wine By The Glass: Bentley, NSW
Best Beer List: Avoca Hotel, VIC
Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks List: Attica, VIC
Best Sparkling Wine List: Aria, Sydney, NSW
Best Champagne List: Cru Bar + Cellar, QLD
Best Aperitif List: Devine Food & Wine, NSW
Best Digestif List: Black Bar & Grill, NSW
Best Listing Of A Region’s Wine: Settlers Tavern, WA
Best Listing Of Australian Wines: Jonah’s, NSW
Best Listing Of ACT Wines: Rubicon, ACT
Best Listing Of NSW Wines: Jonah’s, NSW
Best Listing Of QLD Wines: Blackbird, QLD
Best Listing Of SA Wines: fermentAsian, SA
Best Listing Of TAS Wines: Stillwater, TAS
Best Listing Of VIC Wines: Lake House, VIC
Best Listing Of WA Wines: Settlers Tavern, WA
Gourmet Traveller Wine Readers’ Choice: Charred Kitchen, NSW
Sommeliers Choice Award : Bentley, Nick Hildebrandt, NSW

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