By Ian Neubauer
The awards returned this year after a four-year interval, following the strategic reorganisation of founding coordinator Tucker Seabrook. Tucker Seabrook merged with Distinguished Vineyards — the former fine wine arm of Lion Nathan — in 2005, and now trades under joint venture Fine Wine Partners (FWP).
“The award recognise and reward the enormous investment in time and money necessary for restaurants to develop a quality wine list,” FWP said. “Any licensed on-premise establishment in Australia can enter.”
Establishments may apply for awards in one of six categories: restaurant, café/brasserie, country restaurant, international hotel restaurant or pub restaurant. There are also five supplementary awards: the Judy Hirst Award for best Sommelier, the Tony Hitchins Award for New Restaurant, Small list, Wine Region list and Food and Wine matching.
A panel of 12 Australian and international wine writers chaired by Peter Forrestal will judge applications on balance, content, pricing, suitability and quality of wines listed. Prizes include return trips to Europe with visits to some of world’s most famous wine and spirit houses, handcrafted champagne coolers and framed awards incorporating a unique corkscrew.
The results will be published in the August/September issue of Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine with successful entrants receiving one, two or three glass ratings.
Established in 1994, the awards were the first to specifically acknowledge quality wine lists in Australia. Former winners include Asiana, Circa, The Melbourne Wine Room, Guillaume at Bennelong, Syracuse and France Soir. Entry forms can be downloaded here.