Restaurant Awards

Finalists: Wine Bar of the Year

The annual awards are back. Here are the top wine bars around Australia that are finalists for our Wine Bar of the Year Award.
Finalist Gourmet Traveller Wine Bar of the Year Award

Presenting the finalists for Wine Bar of the Year.

Next month, we will reveal our winners and the full guide to Australia’s best restaurants at a glamorous gala evening at Brasserie 1930 in Sydney and in our September issue.

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And the nominees are…

Bar Copains, NSW.

(Photo: Nikki To)

Bar Copains, Sydney | NSW

If the aim was to nail the “European-style neighbourhood natural wine bar” brief, then Bar Copains understood the assignment. When it landed in Surry Hills late last year, this petite oenothèque fast became a frequent haunt for fans of the unfined and unfiltered – and it hasn’t lost momentum since. Of course, you could chalk that up to Morgan McGlone and Nathan Sasi’s on point cooking, too, from the epic pig’s head fritti and bang-up fish sanga to the ripping crème caramel finale.

In short: A real corker.

Bar Francine, QLD.

Bar Francine, Brisbane | QLD

It’s not often a venue pops up that’s exactly what the city needs. That’s how Adrienne Jory and Rick Gibson’s Bar Francine feels. Housed in a charming old Queenslander, it’s relaxed, jovial and nothing short of a blast. Chef Brad Cooper’s food isn’t groundbreaking, but it sure is delicious. Take the onion fritti, for example. Imagine blooming onion, served with sour cream and sweet chilli for dipping. Brilliant. Ditto a smart, all-Australian wine list compiled by sommelier Chris Bancroft.

In short: One of a kind.

Clover, VIC.

Clover, Melbourne | VIC

It’s a crowded horse race, the Melbourne wine bar scene, and currently one of the city’s most exciting. Clover is the poster child for why. Part of Richmond’s increasingly impressive food offer, Clover starts with a constantly morphing list of wine adept at pulling together great wine makers from all points of the spectrum. Libations are combined with clean-lined food, which is often fire-licked and fermented, and a service style that completely gets whether it should stay or go.

In short: A benchmark sign of the times.

Good Gilbert, SA.

Good Gilbert, Adelaide | SA

Watching a community blossom is a special thing. You can do it at Good Gilbert, over a glass of Grand Cru Burgundy or an astoundingly affordable spread of small-batch treasures. Husband and wife Wilson and Isabelle Shawyer work hard to create a safe, friendly suburban space for everyone, dogs included. Winemakers, sommeliers and local residents hang out in the art-packed space. Bistro-style sidewalk seating looks out over the historic Capri Theatre and a dining room heaves with spirited conversation and dishes by stellar new chef Ash Peek.

In short: Just keeps getting better.

Lalla Rookh Wine Store, WA.

(Photo: Jessica Wyld)

Lalla Rookh Wine Store, Perth | WA

While many wine bars are about what their owners “like to eat and drink”, Lalla Rookh is a clubby bolthole in the CBD – one of Perth’s first neo-enotecas and now into its second decade of service – remains firmly focused on the needs and wants of guests. Staff are attentive and informed; the cellar carries both new-wave and blue-chip vino, and a menu brimming with Italian deliciousness (think puffy pizze, comforting pastas and playful small plates) is available all-day.

In short: An original and still one of the best.

Sonny, TAS.

(Photo: Jesse Hunniford)

Sonny, Hobart | TAS

It’s not just Sonny‘s pint-sized dimensions responsible for the constant queue, even when the rest of Hobart is deserted. It’s the incredible soundtrack, sense of camaraderie and laidback but always on-it service. It’s a wine list that skews minimal intervention in an embracing not point-scoring way while also shining a light on local heroes. It’s also a food menu which understands that sometimes all you need is a perfect oyster, a gouda finger or two, or sliced-to-order charcuterie.

In short: Great things come in small packages.

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