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17 April 2014

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Louis Roederer Wine List of the Year 2010

(menu)

Earlier this year, Square Meal’s sister publication Imbibe joined forces with one of the most prestigious Champagne houses to launch the Louis Roederer Wine List of the Year competition.


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We received entries from venues all over the country, from pubs to Michelin-starred eateries. In the early stages the judges were all sommeliers; in the final round – in the interests of neutrality – they were all respected ex-sommeliers or wine list consultants.

What were the judges looking for? Well, good bottles of wine were part of – though not the whole – story. Some pretty swanky lists failed to get through because, as one judge put it: ‘There’s no skill needed in stuffing your list with 20 vintages of Cheval Blanc. You just need a big cellar and deep pockets.’ Essentially, imagination in the wines selected and the way they were presented; how good a fit the wines were for the restaurant’s cuisine and clientele; how easy the list was to use; and personality.


WLOY13 - panel.jpgTHE JUDGES

(From left to right) Christopher Delalonde, sommelier, Sarment (ex-The Square)
Peter McCombie MW, wine consultant
Robert Giorgione, wine consultant (ex-Orrery, La Tante Claire)
Stuart Alder, landlord, The Radcliffe Arms


THE WINNERS:


WLOY6 - WLOY-winner-logo_for-web.jpgWINE LIST OF THE YEARWLOY11 - WineListAwards_038.jpg

HK House Oriental Restaurant
Russell Street, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 3AB; 01453 768833

Yes, you read it right. The winning list is a Chinese restaurant in Gloucestershire where, apart from a £70 bottle of rosé Champagne, the most expensive wine is a £48 Burgundy. Yet still the HK House list blew away all the judges.

At just 40 wines, it’s a miracle of condensation, and it’s confident enough to list more unusual stuff like (Greek) Santorini or (Hungarian) Furmint rather than Chablis or Pinot Grigio.

This was impressive enough, but the clincher was the information about the wines. Manager Chee Hui tells you why he loves the wine in prose that is honest, intelligent, informed and often hilariously funny.

Brilliantly put together, superbly priced, imaginative, accessible and better written than most wine books, the HK House list oozes the personality of its owner. A labour of love and a work of genius.


WLOY3 - fine-WLOY-winner-logo_for-web.jpgFINE WINE LIST OF THE YEAR

The Cherwell Boat House
50 Bardwell Road, Oxford, OX2 6SD; 01865 552746; www.cherwellboathouse.co.uk

The Cherwell Boat House list is stylishly laid out, exceptionally easy to navigate and, with around 250 wines, fairly tight. There are some imaginative touches: German wines are listed in ascending order of sweetness; the ‘Shortlist’ of house wines is wide-ranging, with helpful notes; while the ‘From our Cellar’ section features a staggering choice of great mature wines. A celebration of great wine, clarity of thought and accessibility.


WLOY5 - pub-WLOY-winner-logo_for-web.jpgPUB LIST OF THE YEAR

The One Bull Inn
Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP33 1UZ; 01284 848220; www.theonebull.co.uk

So many pub wine lists are truly awful that it’s no surprise this one stood out. With around 50 ‘standard’ wines and 10 ‘fine wines’, it’s impressively compact, but offers excellent choice. The wines are split into six stylistic groups, such as ‘dry, crisp, fresh’ and ‘full-flavoured, full, big’, and the pub offers ‘tasting flights’ for each section. So customers can try 50ml samples of all six ‘aromatic and herbaceous’ whites, for instance, for £9. Many fancier wine lists with serious pretensions could learn from The One Bull Inn.


WLOY2 - ethnic-WLOY-winner-logo_for-web.jpgETHNIC RESTAURANT LIST OF THE YEAR
Roka

37 Charlotte Street, London, W1T 1RR; 020 7580 6464; www.rokarestaurant.com

Roka’s list stood out for two reasons. First, the wines had been chosen with great care to suit the challenges of Japanese food; second, the unfussy presentation with reds and whites split by style (‘fruity and velvety’, ‘rich and spicy’, etc). Even though there’s a lot going on, with ‘Sommelier Selections’ and a ‘Wish List’ of fine wines, it’s easy to navigate.


WLOY1 - champagne-WLOY-winner-logo_for-web.jpgCHAMPAGNE LIST OF THE YEAR
The Bell at Skenfrith

Skenfrith, Monmouthshire, NP7 8UH; 01600 750235; www.skenfrith.co.uk

Twenty ‘exceptional and vintage’ Champagnes, from Krug and Cristal to unknown small growers; plus 16 expressions of Gosset, nine of Taittinger and probably the finest selection of Bollinger wines outside France. As well as interesting tasting notes, there is info about the houses, production techniques and the region itself. A lengthy love letter to the world’s most famous bubbles.


WLOY4 - neighbourhood-WLOY-winner-logo_for-web.jpgNEIGHBOURHOOD RESTAURANT LIST OF THE YEAR

The Ambassador
55 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4DL; 020 7837 0009; www.thambassadorcafe.co.uk

An object lesson in clarity and brevity. In around 100 wines, former manager Chris Atkins put together an unashamedly Euro-centric selection that covers all the main French, Spanish and Italian regions. Pricing is sensible and 18 wines are available by the glass or carafe. But the clincher was the ‘Wine of the Moment’ selection, which changes at least once a month, and directs customers towards interesting wines that are great for the season.


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CAMINO, LONDON N1

CLOS MAGGIORE, LONDON WC2

COQ D’ARGENT, LONDON EC2

CORRIGAN’S MAYFAIR, LONDON W1

THE CROSS AT KINGUSSIE, INVERNESS

DONNINGTON VALLEY HOTEL AND SPA, NEWBURY

DRAKES OF BRIGHTON

EPERNAY CHAMPAGNE BAR, LEEDS

FRANCO’S, LONDON SW1

THE FRENCH TABLE, SURBITON

GALVIN LA CHAPELLE, LONDON E1

HAKKASAN, LONDON W1

THE HARROW AT LITTLE BEDWYN, MARLBOROUGH

THE HIDE BAR, LONDON SE1

THE LAZY LOUNGE, LEEDS

LORDS OF THE MANOR, CHELTENHAM

THE OLD BRIDGE HOTEL, HUNTINGDON

REX WHISTLER RESTAURANT, LONDON SW1

ROWLEY’S, LONDON SW1

TERRAVINA, SOUTHAMPTON


Editorial feature from Square Meal Lifestyle Magazine Autumn 2010


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