Settlers Tavern; Australia's Wine List of the Year

Pubs & clubs triumph at Australia’s Wine List of the Year 2019

July 24, 2019
By Alana House

The winners of Australia’s Wine List of the Year 2019 have proven that Australia’s pubs and clubs have come of age, scooping up six of the prestigious trophies.

Launched in 1993 by Rob and Judy Hirst and Tucker Seabrook, Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards were created to recognise and reward the hard work and talent of sommeliers as well as the enormous investment in time and resources by business owners to develop quality wine lists and cellars.

Chairman of Judges Peter Forrestal noted: “There’s been an upsurge in the excitement levels in the Best Hotel category, in part due to the ability of owners to fund sizeable lists.

“However, more importantly, it’s been the ability of sommeliers to invest that list with vitality, verve and desirability. We see this with hotel restaurants such as Bert’s, Black Bar and Grill, the Wolgan Dining Room and Melbourne’s Botanical.

“A key attraction are the lists by the glass, enhanced as they have become, by Coravin and so diners have the opportunity to drink fabulous, rare wines at affordable prices.”

The judging panel for the awards is a 34-strong group of highly respected local and international judges, including Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine, wine judges, educators, commentators and previous award winners.

The winner of Australia’s Wine List of the Year awards for 2019 went to est, Sydney.

Owned by Justin Hemmes’ Merivale group, est’s wine list is an impressive tome built over the long-term by Merivale Group Sommelier Franck Moreau MS and his team and currently curated by Head Sommelier Bhatia Dheeraj.

Under the guidance of Moreau MS another of his team also won a national award. Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List went to Berts at The Newport hotel, with the list curated by Andres Aragon Perez.

Berts; Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List; Australia's Wine List of the Year

“Last year’s winner added 500 wines to the list and, unsurprisingly, has won again,” Forrestal noted. “With 38 wines by the glass, there’s a great choice of French, Australian and New Zealand wines (in particular). All the classic styles are covered, often with multiple vintages, as well as all those enjoying fashionable popularity – rosés, gamay, low intervention wines. Of course, the aperitifs, sherry, beers, and spirits are there to tempt too. “

Other winning pubs and hotels included Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel for Best Listing Of VIC Wines; and Margaret River’s Settlers Tavern, which took out Best Wine List WA and Best Listing Of WA Wines.

Forrestal added: “There’s invariably a sommelier or a small group of dedicated wine lovers who have transformed the fortunes of pub restaurants like Perth’s Mayfair Lane, Margaret River’s Settlers Tavern, Sydney’s Upstairs at the Lord Nelson and the Adelaide Hill’s Crafers Hotel.

“People are enticed to these venues by quality food and exceptional wine lists. Sommeliers, driven by an often unreasonable passion for wine which they are determined to share, know what their consumers want and make it available. As a result, the venues thrive.”

Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel; Best Listing of VIC Wines; Australia's Wine List of the Year

Regarding the Wickens win, Forrestal added: “For a decade or more the Royal Mail has had one of Australia’s great international wine lists – with huge strength in Bordeaux and Burgundy.

“A former winner of Australia’s Wine List of the Year, it has never neglected its local winemakers. The current list by the glass has three classic Victorian bubblies; eight (out of 11) Victorian whites; a local rose; and eight (out of 10) Victorian reds. It highlights Victoria’s strengths (especially with riesling, chardonnay and pinot) while offering some older vintages that have been an important part of the state’s wine history.”

Meanwhile, The Newcastle Club was awarded Best Club Restaurant Wine List and Best Club Restaurant Wine List.

Australia’s Best Beer List

Victoria’s The Avoca Hotel won Best Beer List in 2018 and took out the honour again this year.

Consumer Media Partner Gourmet Traveller Wine noted that the list features “plenty of typically popular ales and lagers, as one would expect, but they have gone above and beyond to compile an extraordinary collection”.

“The Avoca has sourced their beers from every corner of the globe. Feel like a Mexican pilsner or a Sardinian lager, a Japanese IPA or a Californian wheat beer, a Norwegian saison or a Belgian trappist tripel? Well, this is the place. There are light beers and strong ales and even gluten-free beers. And a wonderful assembly of fruit beers, sour beers and lambic beers.

“The highlight, especially for fans of the style, must be the stouts and porters. From renowned breweries from around the world, these are a treat.” 

Forrestal adds: “[Owner] Ian Urquart can’t resist extending and refining his beer list every year. With more than 160 beers of every imaginable style from around the world (most corners of the US, Canada, Belgium, Germany, France, Japan, Jamaica, Norway, Ireland, England, NZ and all over Australia). It’s the breadth and depth of the collection that sets it apart – as well as the sheer quality that it embraces.”

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Big night for WA pubs

Margaret River’s Settlers Tavern took out Best Wine List WA and
Best Listing Of WA Wines.

Settlers Tavern; Australia's Wine List of the Year

Forrestal said: “While this Margaret River destination has an impressive international collection, the focus is on Western Australia and, in particular, the local region. It is extensive with plenty of back vintages and impossible to get bottles, such as Leeuwin Estate ‘Art Series’ Chardonnay by the glass every day of the year. It balances well-known labels with likely newcomers and tiny labels. The prices are modest. And the venue is noisy and exhilarating.”

The win follows Settlers Tavern recently being declared the regional winner in the Australian Hotels Association WA Steak Sandwich competition. 

Mayfair Lane; Australia's Wine List of the Year

Meanwhile, Australia’s Best Pub Restaurant Wine List went to Mayfair Lane Pub & Dining Room, West Perth. The pub said it was “absolutely over the moon to have won”.

Curated by Foni Pollitt, the Mayfair Lane list covers a lot of wine territory, some of it rarely explored by Australian wine lists, such as wines produced on volcanic soils. 

“Starting with 15 beers (four from WA) on tap, with a craft beer selection, just in case, this is an exemplary pub list,” said Forrestal. “It offers a wide range of choice with spirits, especially gin, vermouth, whisky, rum and tequila.

“The listing of Australian and overseas wines offers a great deal of excitement with quality producers abounding at all price points. The choice of 50 wines by the glass will suit the most discerning palate and anyone who wants a good drink.”

Drinks Trade a proud partner of the awards

“The Drinks Association is thrilled to support Australia’s Wine List of Year,” said CEO Georgia Lennon.

“As the Trade Communications Partner of the event, we look forward to featuring the winners in our magazine, Drinks Trade. Drinks Trade is the go-to publication for Australia’s on and off-trade and keeping them informed is key to its success.

“These awards are a valuable acknowledgement of the amazing talent in our industry and I congratulate all the winners.”

Full winners list:

Australia's Wine List of the Year 2019 winners

NATIONAL AWARD WINNER – 2019 Wine List of The Year – est, Sydney & Judy Hirst Award Bhatia Dheeraj


Best Wine List ACT – Mezzalira

Best Wine List NSW – est

Best Wine List NT – Stone House

Best Wine List QLD – Otto Brisbane

Best Wine List SA – The Barn Steakhouse Mount Gambier

Best Wine List TAS – Terrace Launceston

Best Wine List VIC – Cutler & Co

Best Wine List WA – Settlers Tavern Margaret River


Best City Restaurant Wine List – est, NSW

Best Country Restaurant Wine List – The Barn Steakhouse Mount Gambier, SA

Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List – Berts, NSW

Best Pub Restaurant Wine List – Mayfair Lane Pub & Dining Room, WA

Best Club Restaurant Wine List – The Newcastle Club, NSW

Best Wine Bar List – Dear Sainte Éloise, NSW

Best New List – The Tony Hitchin Award – Bistecca, NSW

Best Small List (Max 50 Wines) – Congress, VIC

Best Small List (Max 100 Wines) – Institut Polaire, TAS

Best Food & Wine Matching List – Momofuku Seiobo, NSW

Best List Of Wine By The Glass – Bentley, NSW

Best Beer List – The Avoca, VIC Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks List – Attica, VIC

Best Sparkling Wine List – Melbourne Supper Club, VIC

Best Champagne List – Quay, NSW

Best Aperitif List – Banksii Vermouth Bar & Bistro, NSW

Best Digestif List – Bentley, NSW

Best Listing Of A Region’s Wine – Stillwater Launceston, TAS

Best Listing Of Australian Wines – Cafe Sydney, NSW

Best Listing Of ACT Wines – The Boat House, ACT

Best Listing Of NSW Wines – The Newcastle Club, NSW

Best Listing Of QLD Wines – Cru Bar + Cellar, QLD

Best Listing Of SA Wines – Republic Norwood, SA

Best Listing Of TAS Wines – Terrace Launceston, TAS

Best Listing Of VIC Wines – Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel, VIC

Best Listing Of WA Wines – Settlers Tavern Margaret River, WA

Gourmet Traveller Wine Readers’ Choice – Muse, ACT

Sommeliers Choice Award – Sixpenny, NSW

Click here to see photos from the ceremony

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