We might all be struggling to travel, visit and explore the best restaurants and wine lists in the world, but that does not mean they are not there for us to discover when we can. Which is why Star Wine List is continuing to roll out its new ‘Best of’ wine list guides for different countries and cities. Here we look at how it has pulled together the best wine restaurants in Barcelona and Bangkok and which outlets won Wine Lists of the Year in Denmark and Finland.
When you have the former sommelier for El Bulli to help put together the best wine restaurants in Barcelona you know you are on to a good thing, which makes the Star Wine List guides and awards important both for producers looking to place their wines around the world and for buyers to see what trends and wines are being listed. Star Wine List founder Krister Bengtsson explains how the lists and awards are put together.
How did you manage to pull off your award events in Denmark and Finland despite Covid-19?
We were hosted by their respective sommelier associations for their national sommelier championships. The local Covid-19 rules said we could have a maximum 50 people in Helsinki and 200 in Copenhagen, so in Copenhagen it felt like the good old pre-corona days with so many people! In Helsinki we were represented by (Best sommelier of Europe) Raimonds Tomsons as Finland does not allow Swedes to enter due to the Covid-19 situation.
How did you select the winning wine lists?
Our jury, including five of the top sommeliers in the world such as Paz Levinson, Marc Almert and Arvid Rosengren, voted for the wine lists independently according to set criteria. All venues in Denmark and Finland featured on Star Wine List were entered and any other venue could enter their list free of charge, so it was a level playing field. We had six categories in each country, such as Best Austrian Wine List and By the Glass.
Geranium, the Michelin three-star restaurant, swept the Danish awards with three category wins out of six, including the Grand Prix and the Best Austrian wine list in Denmark. In Finland, the classic Savoy took three golds as well, also winning Grand Prix and Best Austrian wine list.
What are the next steps for the winners?
They are now qualified, Eurovision song contest style, to our Global Final in Vienna in May 2021, in partnership with Austrian Wine. And we are now moving on to produce new competitions in more markets – and we are open for partners too.
Were there any surprises?
The classics prevailed this time, Helsinki’s Savoy opened in 1937. Geranium much younger of course, but is a three-star restaurant. Worthy winners for sure. But we also had newer, more modern winners, such as Admiralgade 26 in Copenhagen. And we had an emotional moment on stage where 108 in Copenhagen won the best Low Intervention/Natural list the day after announcing it is closing due to Covid-19.
You have also continued to open up new Star Wine List guides in different cities and countries despite Covid-19. How have you done that?
We have paused many city launches for months, but the fact is most of the world is opening up again, although with restrictive measures. They are, though, all struggling due to the lack of tourists. Which was the case for 108, and most venues in central Copenhagen, as well as many other major destinations. Until travel comes back, these are tough times.
Are you having to go back and revise your other country and city lists to make sure they are up to date?
Yes, we do that on an ongoing basis. We are digital and not a book, so we need to keep track of which places are opening and closing.
Is it though also a good time to be celebrating the on-trade and all the great work that is being done in restaurants through this time?
We think so. We are grateful for the support we are getting from sommeliers. The times are terrible, but will get better.
Can you explain how you put the lists together for Barcelona and Bangkok?
We grow by asking top wine professionals, often sommeliers, about their favourite wine bars and wine restaurants in their city or region. In Barcelona we were very grateful that El Bulli sommelier, and Jancis Robsinon MW-writer, Ferran Centelles created the guide for us. In Bangkok we have Nordic sommeliers Fredrik Wohlrabe (at Gaa) and Rasmus Poll.
What trends have you seen in the wine lists and wines selected for restaurants in Barcelona and Bangkok?
It’s clear the demand for natural wine is not a fad but sweeping, eventually, through all cities. In many places it is becoming the new normal, where wine lists are mixed classic and natural and you don’t really talk about it in that way.
Which countries wines and styles are doing particularly well in these two cities?
Ferran Centelles mentions in our interview on Star Wine List about Barcelona: “In terms of wine, the approach is quite cosmopolitan. We can find many natural and ’out of the box’ wines but also some more traditional. Another point to be explained are the wine prices. I think they are extremely fair, still a bargain!”
In Bangkok, the wine scene is much younger and still weighed down by hefty tariffs, but it’s evolving rapidly, says Rasmus Poll and Fredrik Wohlrabe. You can read their analysis of the scene there here.
What else do you have planned in the coming months?
We are now preparing to put on our wine list celebration Star Wine List of the Year in more countries, but of course planning is not easy with the fluid situation. We are working with The Buyer to host a competition in the UK early in 2021 as well. Sign up to our newsletter and The Buyer to stay informed!
- The Buyer has formed a partnership with Star Wine List to help promote our work to our collective audiences and work on joint projects like a UK Wine List of the Year competition. If you would like to find out more or join us in our efforts then please contact Krister Bengtsson on email@example.com or Richard Siddle on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can download and keep track of the best wine restaurants in cities around the world via the Star Wine List app.
- iphone: https://apps.apple.com/se/app/star-wine-list/id1483940755
- android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.starwinelist.app