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The Best of the Best 2009: Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards

07 Aug 2009

The judges have voted and Australia's best wine list of 2009 is to be found within the soaring walls of Sydney's Rockpool Bar & Grill.


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Rockpool Bar & Grill declared best of the best – 2009 Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards

Media release – strictly embargoed until 7pm Tues 11 August

The judges have voted and Australia’s best wine list of 2009 is to be found within the soaring walls of Sydney’s Rockpool Bar & Grill, the grandest ‘steakhouse’ this nation has ever seen and the visionary creation of Neil Perry and his partners, Trish Richards and passionate wine collector, David Doyle.

Rockpool Bar & Grill was declared the best of the best at the 2009 Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards presented last night at Studio Twenty4 in Sydney’s Walsh Bay by key partners, leading wine distributor, Fine Wine Partners and Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine together with sponsors Acqua Panna, S.Pellegrino and Riedel. The Awards which set the benchmark nationally, have been running since 1994 and seek to reward the passion and enormous time and resources required to develop quality wine lists.

The world class Rockpool Bar &Grill list, presented in two volumes; one for white wines and one for red, has an incredible range of wines including rare collector’s wines worth tens of thousands of dollars. The wine team’s work was acknowledged with head sommelier, Sophie Otton receiving the Judy Hirst Award.

Presenting partners, Fine Wine Partners and Gourmet Traveller WINE were delighted to see a significant increase in entries for this year’s Awards. “We were thrilled given the challenges of the current economic climate to see this growth and to see standards remaining so high,” commented Judy Sarris, editor, Gourmet Traveller WINE. Rob Hirst, Chairman of Fine Wine Partners, added, “As our National and International judges acknowledge Australia’s best wine lists are now world class and it is great that they are able to be recognised and rewarded here.”

The winning wine lists were spread around the country with NSW victories including Best International Hotel Restaurant List – Glass Brasserie and Best Food & Wine Matching – Bilson’s. Victoria’s winners were Bistro Vue – Best Cafe/Brasserie List, RACV Members Dining Room – Best Club List, Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld – Best Country Restaurant List and La Petanque in Main Ridge – Best Regional List.

In other states South Australian restaurant Fino from Willunga was awarded Best Small List and Western Australia claimed two categories, Best Wine Bar List for Must Winebar and Best Pub Restaurant List for Settlers Tavern in the Margaret River.

State winners were Rockpool Bar & Grill NSW, The Ginger Room ACT, Cru Bar & Cellar QLD, Vue De Monde VIC, Appellation SA, Must WInebar WA and Terrace Restaurant TAS.

2008 national winner, Taxi Dining joined Aria, Forty One, Asiana, Circa, the Prince, Syracuse, Walters Wine Bar in the Hall of Fame together with three time winners Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Healesville Hotel and Friends. For the first time, wine lovers were invited to vote for the list that impressed them most, with the inaugural Gourmet Traveller WINE Readers’ Choice Award being presented to Wildfire.

Fittingly, guests at the presentation were served an exceptional ‘list’ of wines with a choice from Brokenwood, Capel Vale, Henschke, Mitchelton, Petaluma, Rumball, Tatachilla, Villa Maria, Wither Hills with Mac’s Beer and Acqua Panna and S.Pellegrino water, all served in fine Riedel glassware.

The results will be published in a guide that will be published with the Aug/Sept 2009 issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine on sale August 12.

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Australia’s Wine List of the Year Award

Presented by Fine Wine Partners and Gourmet Traveller WINE

Overall national winner – 2009 Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards

  • Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney, NSW

Best Restaurant List 2009 | Best New List – The Tony Hitchin Award | Best New South Wales List

National winner of the Judy Hirst Award

  • Sophie Otton –Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney

State winners

  • ACT: The Ginger Room, Canberra
  • NSW: Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney
  • QLD: Cru Bar & Cellar, Brisbane
  • SA: Appellation, Barossa Valley
  • TAS: Terrace Restaurant, Prospect Vale
  • VIC: Vue De Monde, Melbourne
  • WA: Must Winebar, Perth

Category winners

  • BEST RESTAURANT LIST: Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney, NSW
  • BEST NEW LIST – THE TONY HITCHIN AWARD: Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney, NSW
  • BEST REGIONAL LIST: La Petanque, Main Ridge, VIC
  • BEST SMALL LIST: Fino, Willunga, SA
  • BEST WINE BAR LIST: Must Winebar, Perth, WA
  • BEST COUNTRY RESTAURANT LIST: Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld, VIC
  • BEST PUB RESTAURANT LIST: Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, WA
  • BEST CAFE/BRASSERIE LIST: Bistro Vue, Melbourne, VIC
  • BEST CLUB LIST: RACV Members Dining Room, Melbourne, VIC

Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame – national winners
  • Taxi Dining Room, Melbourne (2008)
  • Asiana, Melbourne (2004)
  • Aria, Sydney (2003)
  • Circa, The Prince Melbourne (2001)
  • Syracuse, Melbourne (1999)
  • Forty One, Sydney (1998)
  • Walter’s Wine Bar, Melbourne (1996)
Hall of Fame – three-time winners
  • BEST CLUB RESTAURANT: Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Sydney, NSW
  • BEST PUB RESTAURANT: Healesville Hotel, Healesville, VIC
  • BEST WA RESTAURANT: Friends, Perth, WA
  • READERS’S CHOICE AWARD: Wildfire, Sydney, NSW


The winner of Australia’s Wine List of the Year receives a return trip for two to Paris or London with the opportunity to visit some of the world’s most famous wine and spirit houses. The Judy Hirst Award winner receives a specially engraved Riedel Decanter and all State and Category winners receive handcrafted connoisseurs champagne coolers from France and framed Award Certificates.

The 19 Australian and 8 International Judges utilize judging criteria for Australia’s Wine List of the Year that consists of 5 parts: – content, balance, pricing, suitability and presentation, with the quality of the wines on the list being key to success.

The judging panel

The judging of 2009 Australia’s Wine List of the Year will be conducted by a panel led by Chairman of Judges, Peter Forrestal and consisting of Peter Bourne (NSW), Maryann Egan (Vic), Jane Faulkner (Vic), Ken Gargett (Qld), Nigel Hopkins (SA), Ray Jordan (WA), Graeme Phillips (Tas), Jeni Port (Vic), Nick Ryan (NSW), Nick Stock (Vic) Louise Radman (SA) and Kim West (Vic).

Final stage judging

For the judging of the top six wine lists, the panel will be joined by a group of wine writers and sommeliers from around the world. Overseas judges include Gerard Basset MW MS MBA (England), Bob Campbell MW (New Zealand), Felicity Carter (Germany), Cameron Douglas MS (New Zealand), Evan Goldstein MS (USA), Andrew Jefford (England), Brian Julyan MS (England) and James Lawther MW (France). The local contingent are Nick Bulleid MW, Andrew Caillard MW, Huon Hooke, Ben Moechtar, Toni Paterson MW and last year’s winning sommelier, Lincoln Riley of Taxi.


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