Wine List of the Year judging process
The judging panel consists of some of Australia’s finest wine and food writers – Peter Bourne, Maryann Egan, Jane Faulkner, Ken Gargett, Nigel Hopkins, Ray Jordan, Graeme Phillips, Jeni Port, Louise Radman, Nick Ryan, Nick Stock and Kim West – representing each Australian state. Most of the panel have been long-term judges of the awards.
Under the direction of chief judge Peter Forrestal, each wine list entered is assessed by two judges and given a score and a rating: three glasses (90-100 points); two glasses (80-89 points); one glass (70-79 points). Those scoring less than 70 points do not receive a rating and are not featured in our guide. From the results come the 18 award winners. The top half-dozen wine lists that have scored the best advance to the final round of judging.
Impartiality is a key consideration in the judging process. Consequently, each wine list is assessed by judges who live in other states. In addition, the overall winner is chosen by an expanded panel of local and international judges.
To decide on the winner of Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards, the judging panel is joined by some of the world’s top wine writers and sommeliers, including Australia’s Nick Bulleid MW, Andrew Caillard MW, Huon Hooke, Ben Moechtar, Toni Patterson MW and Linc Riley, sommelier from previous winner Taxi Dining Room – and an impressive group of internationals: Bob Campbell MW and Cameron Douglas MS (New Zealand); Gerard Basset MW, MS, MBA, Andrew Jefford, Brian Julyan MS (UK); James Lawther MW (France); Felicity Carter (Germany) and Evan Goldstein MS (US).
Each wine list is assessed on five criteria:
Content (45%) Restaurants are rewarded for having an extensive list, plenty of wines by the glass, mature wines from good vintages and an adequate list of aperitifs, beers, spirits, liqueurs and waters. The best lists have an original and innovative choice of wines and varietals that are sourced from regions where they do well.
Balance (15%) The judges are looking for a balance between modestly priced and expensive wines; between domestic and imported wines; between wines from different Australian regions and between established and new labels. Different varieties and styles of wine need to be catered for.
Suitability (15%) It is important that the list is suited to the cuisine and fits the style and image of the establishment.
Presentation (15%) It is vital that each list includes vintages and provides accurate, correctly spelled information about the wine and the region it comes from. Clear design and layout that makes a list easy to navigate are rewarded.
Pricing (10%) The judges look for value while taking into account that many restaurants have high overheads.