These are the best restaurant wine lists in Australia

Fine Wine Partners chairman Rob Hirst with fermentAsian co-owner and sommelier Grant Dickson, Judy Sarris from Gourmet Traveller WINE and Sandra Prizabilla from the Drinks Association. Source: supplied

Five years ago, when chef Tuoi Do, opened her small Vietnamese-style restaurant, fermentAsian, in the Barossa Valley town of Tanunda, it was a chance for her husband, classical musician Grant Dickson, to indulge his other great passion, wine.

As a budding sommelier he created a list that was brilliant, funny and fascinating, with tasting notes that made you chuckle and often delay your order just to keep reading. Even Business Insider has been caught still reading the list as the entrees arrived. Dickson’s notes made you want to order wines you’d never heard of, while other cult names on the list had you pondering how very well connected he must be. It was both affordable and extravagant. If you want to try a 1960s champagne or 45-year-old German rieslings from the cellar of the late Barossa great Peter Lehmann, this is the place to be.

A 1924 Chateau Lafite Rothschild from Bordeaux sounds like an absolute bargain at $3,300.

Yesterday, that passion and effort paid off when fermentAsian was awarded Australia’s Wine List of the Year and Dickson was presented with the Judy Hirst award for his list, which now runs to more than 80 pages.

Wine List of the Year chairman of judges Peter Forrestal said the list “struck a chord” with the judges and Dickson was very much in the spirit of Hirst, who co-founded the awards with her husband Rob in 1994.

“Judy Hirst would have loved the unlikely scenario of a musician taking on the role of sommelier and restaurant manager and growing a list organically,” Forrestal said.

“Grant Dickson is a musician who combines an ear for poetry, a penchant for wine history and a delight in sourcing the obscure and improbable: and producing a commentary on the wines which breathes life into an extraordinary list.”

This year’s awards showed NSW has lifted its game after Victoria dominated in recent years, with restaurants awarded one, two or three glasses for the quality of their wine list. On that basis, South Australiais probably the best place in Australia to drink and dine, with the most three glass lists, per capita.

Forrestal said that not only were there a record number of entries this year, a record number of clubs, pubs, hotels and wine bars achieved either a two or three glass rating (72%).

The full results for the awards will feature in the Aug/Sept 2016 Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine, which goes on sale tomorrow, July 27, as well as being online here.

Here are the winners of the 2016 Australia’s Wine List of the Year awards:

    Wine list of the year fermentAsian, SA
    Judy Hirst award Grant Dickson
    Best city restaurant wine list Est, NSW
    Best country restaurant wine list fermentAsian, SA
    Best hotel restaurant wine list Jonah’s, NSW
    Best pub restaurant wine list Upstairs at the Lord Nelson, NSW
    Best club restaurant wine list Queen’s Club, NSW
    Best wine bar list Love, Tilly Devine, NSW
    Best new list Silvereye, NSW
    Best small list (Max 50 wines) Merricote, VIC
    BEST SMALL LIST (Max 100 wines) Spice Temple, VIC
    Best food & wine matching list Provenance, VIC
    Best list of wine by the glass Quay, NSW
    Best beer list The Source at MONA, TAS
    Best aperitif list Apothecary 1878, SA
    Best digestif list Sepia, NSW
    Best listing of a region’s wines Healesville Hotel, VIC
    Best listing of Australian wines Altitude, NSW
    Best listing of NSW wines Biota Dining, NSW
    Best listing of SA wines The Grill at the Stirling Hotel, SA
    Best listing of TAS wines Stillwater, TAS
    Best listing of VIC wines Royal Mail, VIC
    Best listing of WA wines Frasers, WA
    Gourmet Traveller Wine readers’ choice Hubert, NSW

    Best wine list ACT: Rubicon
    Best wine list NSW: Jonah’s
    Best wine list QLD: Stokehouse Q
    Best wine list SA: fermentAsian
    Best wine list TAS: Stillwater
    Best wine list VIC: The Botanical
    Best wine list WA: Lalla Rookh Wine Store

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