As we gear up for the 2022 UK Wine List of the Year awards, co-hosted by The Buyer and Star Wine List, we take the opportunity to look back at some of the winners from the inaugural awards held in January 2021. It was at the time a chance to reward and hopefully raise spirits for key players in the premium on-trade at a time when we were in the middle of the winter lockdown. We start by looking at the finalists in the German Wine List of the year category, sponsored by Wines of Germany, that saw Vineyard at Stockcross being named the overall winner.
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.
For the vast majority of the year the front of house teams at restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels are only focused on what they are doing to keep their customers as happy as possible. Creating food and drinks menus and wine lists they believe best suit the tastes and wishes of their returning guests.
It’s only when they raise their heads and look outside at what their competition is doing might they then look to compare their offers to what other restaurants and bars might be doing. Like awards season and the chance to test yourself against your peers in the sector.
The UK Wine List Awards is designed to reward those operators who have made wine a key part of their offer. The opportunity to shine the light on key areas, regions or countries that they have made a real focus on in their lists.
It’s why the categories in the The Buyer and Star Wine List’s UK Wine List Awards are split between those that look at lists as a whole – based on their size – and then drill down into specific specialist areas. The size-based categories are also part of Star Wine List’s global competition where it hosts awards in different countries and cities around the world (click here to see the finalists in all the 2021 awards). The country specific awards listed below are exclusive to the UK event, apart from the Austrian list which is also part of the global competitions.
2022 UK Wine List Awards’ Categories
The categories available for the 2022 awards are as follows.
- Grand Prix – more than 600 wines.
- Special Jury Prize – recognising a venue doing something out of the ordinary.
- Best Austrian Wine List, presented by Austrian Wine.
- 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 E&J Gallo Winery.
- More categories to be announced.
2021 German Wine List Award (Sponsored by Wines of Germany)
As we wait to see which restaurants and bars will make it through as finalists in the 2022 awards we look back on the 2021 awards to remind ourselves which outlets were the shining lights in the German Wine List category, sponsored by Wines of Germany.
The 2021 Finalists
- Davies & Brook
- Moor Hall
- Noble Rot
- Vineyard at Stockcross
This proved to be a particularly hard category to judge which also illustrates just how important Germany has become as a key country to have on premium restaurant wine lists. Germany has proved to be a real friend to ambitious sommeliers looking to work closely with their restaurant teams to find wines that match with a wide range of dishes and cooking styles.
It provoked a lot of debate amongst the panel made up of leading award-winning sommeliers from around the world, that included:
- Arvid Rosengren, 2016 Best Sommelier of the World
- Paz Levinson, Best Sommelier of Argentina and the Americas
- Pascaline Lepeltier, 2018 Best Sommelier of France
- Marc Almert, 2019 Best Sommelier of the World
- Lu Yang MS, Best Sommelier of China.
The wine list at The Vineyard at Stockcross – the five star hotel, spa and premium restaurant in Berkshire – is so big that guests can find it in their rooms waterproofed so you can lie peacefully in a bath and plan what you are going to drink that evening. Even its website has 226 pages dedicated to wine just to fit all the wines in. Every wine on every page has had to go through a strenuous vetting process even to be listed.
It’s no surprise that wine is such an important part of a hotel that has been devised by its owner, Sir Peter Michael, a winemaker and producer of premium Californian wines at the Peter Michael Winery in Napa. The hotel’s strapline is about bringing the “spirit of California” to England.
Marc Almert, who is head sommelier at Baur au Lac & Baur au Lac Vins in Zürich, was able to share the reasons why The Vineyard at Stockcross was picked out as the overall winner in the German wine list category.
He says the panel was particularly taken at how The Vineyard had looked to explore so much of what Germany can offer and get away from just having a very Riesling-focused German wine offer. “What intrigued us was how the Vineyard has a great list of back vintages of other grapes, like Silvaner, which you see very rarely outside of Germany. It is a great food wine, particularly for vegetable-based dishes. It also had a good selection of white Pinot grapes and a deep collection of German red wines, mainly Pinot Noir, which even within Germany is still quite rare.”
Nicky Forrest, head of Wines of Germany in the UK says it was particularly keen to be involved in the UK Wine List Awards as the “on-trade is such an important part of what we do to promote German wines in the UK. It is also why it is back in 2022 to help partner with the German Wine category in this year’s awards.
Forrest adds: “Sommeliers can deliver such a unique experience for consumers and I think we sometimes underestimate that. It’s a moment in time that you can’t replicate. It’s why we do various initiatives in the on-trade to help sommeliers understand German wine, like our 31 Days of German Riesling Campaign and ‘Restaurant Partners’ project.”
She adds: “What’s great about German wine is we have Riesling and it’s such a diverse and food-friendly wine and we see entire menus successfully paired with different expressions of Riesling, but there is so much more to discover from Germany which is why we are so pleased to be involved in these awards and this category in particular.”
As for the 2022 awards, she says: “We were inspired last year by the fantastic entrants in the ‘German Wine List of the Year’ category and would love to keep supporting those who are really making space for the amazing range of German wines on offer on their lists.”
2022 Judging Panel
The restaurants that make it through to the finals of the 2022 awards will have to convince a different judging team made up of some new faces to the awards. But they are all at the top of their game having won some of the most coveted sommelier awards in the year. The panel, which is chaired by Ruth Spivey, UK ambassador for Star Wine List, includes:
- Salvatore Castano – The ASI’s Best Sommelier of Europe and 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 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 2022 UK Wine List of the Year awards fill in the form and the categories you would like to enter here by January 23.