New Zealand wines in the off-trade have succeeded in achieving a premium price position way ahead of their peers in Australia, South Africa or South America. The challenge is now to push more of its wines onto the top wine lists in leading restaurants. Here we look at the finalists in the New Zealand category in the 2021 UK Wine List of the Year awards, sponsored by New Zealand Winegrowers, to see which outlets are championing Kiwi wines the most as we build up to the 2022 awards co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List.
The entry process for the 2022 UK Wine List of the Year brought to you by The Buyer and Star Wine List is now open. Restaurants, bars and pubs that have wine as a key focus of their offer are invited to enter as many categories as they like (see below) by filling in the entry form here by January 23. The awards are planned to take place in person on February 21 at the Winemaker’s Club in London.
The inaugural UK Wine List of the Year awards was an opportunity to shine the light on the great work being done by sommelier teams across the country to champion wine in their restaurants. It was the chance to both demonstrate what they are doing with their overall lists, but also focus in on key regions and countries that outlets were paying particular attention to.
This remains the focus for the 2022 awards that are now open for any on-trade outlet to submit their lists by January 23 to go in front of our panel of judges made up of some of the leading, award winning sommeliers of their generation.
They will be looking to reward those restaurants that have gone the extra mile to make sure wine is a key part of their offer and that their lists are not only full of top quality wines, but they also offer great value, and a wide choice and depth of wines to choose from.
The 2022 categories
The full line up of categories in the 2022 UK Wine List of the Year is as follows:
- Grand Prix – more than 600 wines.
- Special Jury Prize – recognising a venue doing something out of the ordinary.
- By the Glass
- Sparkling Wine List
- Best Short list – up to 200 wines
- Best Medium Sized List – 200 to 600 wines
Country focused lists
- New Zealand Wine List of the Year – supported by New Zealand Winegrowers.
- German Wine List of the Year – supported by Wines of Germany.
- California Wine List of the Year – supported by Louis M. Martini.
- Best Austrian Wine List, presented by Austrian Wine.
- More categories to be announced.
To give you an idea of the standard of restaurants involved in the competition let’s look back at last year’s New Zealand category, sponsored by New Zealand Wines, and just what the judges were looking for.
New Zealand Wine List of the Year 2021 Finalists (in partnership with New Zealand Wine)
- Chez Bruce
- City Social
- Pollen Street Social
- Vineyard at Stockcross
Winner: Hide Restaurant, London
Hide Restaurant was the stand out winner in the New Zealand wine category for a range that illustrates just how respected and diversified the list is at Hide, the restaurant to its sister retail business the highly influential Hedonism. Wine plays a crucial role at Hide where sommeliers are tasked with finding matches for the always creative and eclectic dishes dreamt up by head chef Ollie Dabbous and his team.
The panel of sommeliers, though, were keen to stress how difficult a category it was and how impressed they were by the lists from all the finalists. The 2021 judging panel included:
- Marc Almert, the Best Sommelier of the World in 2019
- Arvid Rosengren, 2016 Best Sommelier of the World
- Paz Levinson, Best Sommelier of Argentina and the Americas
- Pascaline Lepeltier, 2018 Best Sommelier of France
- Lu Yang MS, Best Sommelier of China.
Marc Almert said it was the fact that Hide had both a strong Sauvignon Blanc selection, that you would expect, but also other styles of wine that made it stand out including blends and different varieties like Albarino. A list that included over 60 New Zealand wines.
Chris Stroud, marketing manager for UK and Europe at New Zealand Winegrowers says: “We really value the support that the on-trade has given us traditionally. The on-trade really gives us an opportunity to show our diverse wines and although we are well known for our Sauvignon Blanc, the hand selling opportunity in the on-trade allows us to the opportunity to showcase much more of New Zealand and what it can offer from other varieties, like Gruner Veltliner, or Albarino or the wonderful Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays we have. So the on-trade is a fantastic window to showcase New Zealand.”
He adds: “The hospitality industry has had a very tough time through the pandemic, so we see this initiative as a great opportunity to show our support for the on-trade and hopefully get sommeliers thinking more about New Zealand wine. The premium on-trade is a very important showcase for New Zealand wines because it enables customers to explore the inspiring range of high-quality varieties and styles. New Zealand wines are very versatile and with the diversity available stylistically fit well on wine lists and they are tailor made for matching a wide variety of cuisines.
Judges for 2022 awards
The judges for the 2022 awards once again includes a strong line-up of award-winning sommeliers, chaired by Ruth Spivery, UK ambassador for Star Wine List. This year’s panel includes:
- Salvatore Castano, Best Sommelier of Europe & Africa 2021
- Arvid Rosengren, 2016 Best Sommelier of the Word
- Raimonds Tomsons, wine director of Barents Wine Collectors & Co-Founder at WineTeach
- Rajat Parr, sommelier and winemaker.
The Judging Criteria
All wine lists are assessed independently by the judging panel who will mark them based on:
- Their depth and diversity
- Value for money.
The jury’s votes are then added up to decide the finalists and the winners.
The 2022 awards will be held in person on February 21 at The Winemakers Club in London with an informal ceremony designed as much as a networking, and tasting event and a chance to meet fellow finalists and peers in the trade. Guests will be invited to attend a walkaround tasting with our partners, the chance to take part in the awards and then enjoy an evening of drinks and food.
- To enter the UK Wine List of the Year awards fill in this form here and enter your wine list by January 23 2022.