These Restaurants Have the Best Wine Lists in the World
I’ve long thought that New York tops just about everywhere if you want to drink the widest selection of great wines.
It turns out that critics tend to agree. According to the 2015 World of Fine Wine’s Best Wine List Awards, which are being released on Tuesday, the Big Apple is the best city in the world for wining while dining.
Forty New York restaurants made it into the top, three-star award category, while the tally for runner-up London was 24.
Manhattan’s temple of cuisine Eleven Madison Park won the global sweepstakes for the overall best list, beating out Vienna’s Palais Coburg, which topped the best European list and was last year’s top award winner.
This is the second edition of the annual World’s Best Wine List awards, which were inaugurated in 2014 by British publication World of Fine Wine. (Full disclosure: I was one of the judges for this competition, but I've only just learned the final tally.) The several thousand entries were accorded none, 1, 2, or 3 stars by our panel; only 300 were three-star winners. The U.S. accounted for 116 of these, but 34 countries, including Vietnam, had at least one prized restaurant. As Neil Beckett, World of Fine Wine’s editor, pointed out, this shows how important wine has become to diners everywhere.
(The full list of awards can be found at www.worldoffinewine.com/)
Here are the global wine list winners:
Best Overall: Eleven Madison Park
Location: New York
What makes it so special is that it’s a perfect blend of hip and classic choices, with the best of the best in every category, from champagne to dessert wines. Yes, there’s the fabulous 1969 Dom Perignon Oenotheque, but if you’re a fan of grower champagne rebels such as Jacques Selosse, you won’t be disappointed. Naturally, great Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône, and California wines are well represented with old vintages.
Best by-the-Glass: Tantris
Here you can try dozens of great, pricy wines such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche by the glass. This is thanks to the handy Coravin system, in which you can draw a sample of wine through the cork via a thin needle.
Best Wine Bar: Terroir
Location: New York
The jazzy design and unusual choices reflect the wine sensibilities of owner Paul Grieco, the apostle of riesling who reignited U.S. interest in the grape. This is where you’ll find the unexpected, such as Frank Cornelissen’s Contadino red from Sicily.
Best Airline: Qatar
What stands out is the quality and number of choices in both first and business class. Champagnes are not just the ubiquitous Krug Grande Cuvée, but also Bollinger rosé and a 1999 Lanson brut. The mix of six reds and whites in first class includes top Bordeaux Château Léoville-Poyferré; in business class, a Chassagne Montrachet white Burgundy from Albert Bichot.
Best Cruise Line: The World
The extensive core cellar is superb. You won't yearn for land while sipping such hard-to-obtain wines as Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Silex and cult Rhône Valley red Domaine de Pegau Cuvee da Capo—or selecting from a diverse by-the-glass list. Destination-specific additions feature fascinating, sometimes obscure wines from Croatia, Uruguay, and even China.
Best Short List: Blue Hill
Location: New York
Blue Hill packs amazing diversity into its under-200 selections, from top Corsican rosé Domaine de Marquiliani made from the sciaccarello grape to the ripe, luscious Shinn Estate Nine Barrels from Long Island to grand wines such as Domaine Chave Hermitage from the Rhône.
Best Hotel Wine List: The Royal Mail Hotel
Location: Dunkeld, Australia
The backdrop of this restaurant and hotel is the Grampians National Park, and—even if you stayed there for a week—you’d hardly make a dent in this comprehensive wine list. In addition to the expected greats from France and Italy, you’ll find the best of Australia, from such cutting-edge producers as Mac Forbes to old vintages of cult wine Wendouree.
Best Champagne and Sparkling: Pix Patisserie
Location: Portland, Ore.
This casual wine bar with red damask wallpaper held on to the title it won last year. The list of 250 wines is a grower-champagne lover’s dream, and includes many single vineyard bottles from hip producers such as Cedric Bouchard and Jerome Prevost at astonishingly low prices.
Best Medium-Sized List: Chop
The specialty here is a surprisingly long list of great American wines, from Kalin Cellars' rare, renowned Sémillon from Livermore Valley to Screaming Eagle. But Europhiles needn’t worry: There are plenty of top Burgundies, Bordeaux, and Champagnes.
Best Designed/Most Original: Frasca Food and Wine
Location: Boulder, Colo.
An elegant typeface and clever, innovative organization make this list easy to read and navigate. Put together by master sommelier Bobby Stuckey, it offers stellar selections, including top Burgundies, at reasonable prices.
Best Dessert & Fortified: Palais Coburg
I can’t imagine any wine lover, no matter how sophisticated, who wouldn’t drool over this list of great sweet wines, with Hungarian Tokaji wines dating back to 1845 and vintages of Château d'Yquem ranging from 1893 to 2001.