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31 July 2014

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Hakkasan
One of the most innovative lists submitted, Hakkasan’s is a great example of approaching the wine list differently. Rather than necessarily by flavour or by country, wines are split up into categories such as ‘New Classics’, which include everything from Stag’s Leap Cabernet to Grosset’s Riesling, ‘Classic’ (Bordeaux, Burgundies and Rhône all together), ‘Terroir’ (wines with a sense of place), ‘Purity’ (great expressions of a grape varietal). It all leads to dialogue with the sommelier and customers ordering different wines, apparently. Either way, our judges loved it! ‘The presentation was really elegant, and a fantastic selection of wines, too,’ said Ronan Sayburn MS.

The Harwood Arms - Harwood_Arms_2008_-_PICT7540.jpgThe Harwood Arms (pictured, left)
Not many pubs could get away with serving Dom Pérignon Rosé for £500 a bottle, but The Harwood Arms is in well-heeled Fulham – a factor which makes this mix of affordable and indulgent (two vintages of Dagueneau’s Silex, for instance) totally justifiable. Good tastings notes for all the wines (not just the pricey stuff), it’s a finely-balanced beast, and the Current Favourites at the start is a friendly touch.

Hawksmoor Seven Dials
With its user-friendly A5 size and clear layout, Hawksmoor’s list ticks a lot of boxes, managing to be both unfussy and intermittently informative, particularly when explaining its Current Favourites. Question marks about the definition of what exactly ‘Reserve Whites/Reds’ might mean, but this is an easy list to follow, with some decent bottles, too. ‘Good-value, accurate and tidy,’ praised Olivier Marie.

Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel
A lot of work has clearly gone into this list – not just in sourcing the wines, but also in giving the customer reasons to engage with it. As well as a House Selection and Fantastic Finds (all with tasting notes), there is – unusually and commendably – a huge selection of half-bottles. And while the focus is decidedly on Europe, the New World selection manages to name-check a lot of good producers too. ‘Varied vintages, good prices, clear and clean. I liked it,’ said Ivo Stoyanov.

In Vino Veritas
This buzzy Brighton eatery is not exactly innovative, but it’s a brilliant example of how to put together a good brasserie list. Thirty wines by the glass, wines from more than 25 Champagne houses, and a terrific selection of wines from £25-£40. The list focuses (as you might expect) on France, but every country is sub-divided by region. ‘Straight to the point, precise and well-priced,’ said Olivier Marie.

Kenny Atkinson at the Orangery, Rockliffe HallOrangery at Rockcliffe Hall - Rockcliffe_Hall_Orangery_2010_-_orangerie_2.jpg (pictured, right)
As you might expect, prices for this upmarket country house hotel are on the high side. But the list is simple, clear, elegant and (despite the exhortation to ‘talk to one of our sommeliers’ on the front page) does its best to explain places and grape varieties in a clear, friendly, no-nonsense kind of way. The New World gets rather short shrift, but this is nonetheless an elegant wine list.

Kinloch Lodge
With more than 20 wine ‘flights’, this is a place that clearly takes its wine offering as seriously as its Michelin-starred food. Copious tasting notes for every wine, whether on the ‘standard’ list or the ‘Fine and Interesting’ selection, make for a sizeable tome, but it’s rather nice to see English wine and Scottish fruit wines on a list along with pricey Claret and Supertuscans. ‘I liked the wine flights,’ said John Clevely MW. ‘They are something that people will look at.’

Lazy Lounge
This wine bar’s list scores highly for presentation, price and friendliness, making the shortlist for two years on the trot. Wines are split up by broad style (‘Crisp and Fresh, and so on), thus avoiding reams of French regions, and giving Slovenian Pinot Gris, for instance, a chance to compete on equal terms with the wines around it. Tasting notes are helpful and not too long, and it’s clear, consistent and very easy to follow. Some of the Fine and Rare prices are terrific!

The One Bull
Winner of last year’s ‘Best Pub List’ is back again – and why not? Fifty wines is a bijou selection, but perfect for a town-centre pub with food. Everything bar fizz and fortified is available by the glass – at excellent prices and handily separated out by style, rather than by country. In a great touch, each stylistic group of five or six wines is available as a tasting flight. Imaginative.

Read on for shortlisted restaurants P-Z.

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