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Wine list of the year 2010: Rockpool Bar & Grill, Sydney

Oh, lordy. If you were asked to dream up the best wine list in the world, no expense spared, all indulgences indulged, all bases covered, all classic estates and legendary vintages included, you probably still couldn’t come close to matching the very real wine list at Sydney’s Rockpool Bar & Grill.

This list is winning awards left, right and centre, and it’s not hard to see why. This time, you can believe the hype.

The sheer size of the list is impressive enough – more than 3500 selections laid out, thankfully, in easily navigable, clear style. But it’s the extraordinary depth of the list that makes your jaw drop to the floor in awe.

The list is built around the mind-bogglingly massive private wine collection of Rockpool co-owner, David Doyle. Over the past decade Doyle has spent a substantial part of the fortune he made in software development in the 1990s buying 60,000 bottles of the world’s finest and rarest wines – many of which are offered here on the Rockpool list. So you’ll find multiple vintages of most of the great names – Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Latour, Roederer Cristal, Grange – stretching back in some cases to the early 20th century; an impressively solid collection of Californian reds going back to the ’70s; a truly sumptuous selection of white Burgundy; and quite a few bottles of Madeira going back to the ’20s – the 1820s, that is. Sure, the prices sometimes take your breath away (the 1945 Romanée-Conti will set you back $89,510 a bottle), but these wines are the exception rather than the rule: what impresses us most about this list is the laudable element of restraint, rare trophy wines notwithstanding.

Despite being housed in spectacular, luxe surroundings, and despite this being, ultimately, a destination restaurant where many diners will be prepared to splurge on the thousands of dollars being asked for the really special-occasion bottles, many of the wines here are cheaper than they are on the Melbourne Rockpool Bar & Grill list. And there are hundreds of bottles listedunder $100: if all you want is a cheeky Côtes du Rhône with your lunchtime steak, there are plenty of affordable choices (the delicious Mas des Bressades Costières de Nîmes, for example, great value at $47 a bottle). In other words, although it certainly helps to be well-heeled to drink well here, you don’t have to be.

WORDS MAX ALLEN PHOTOGRAPHY FAIRFAX PHOTOS

This article is from the September 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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