Winners announced for Imbibe’s Wine List of the Year 2014 in association with Champagne Louis Roederer

Last night at Galvin at Windows, Imbibe and Champagne Louis Roederer were joined by competition finalists for the highly anticipated results of Wine List of the Year 2014. In its fifth year, the competition was judged by a top panel of leading sommeliers, consultants and wine buyers who reviewed a record number of entries from all across the country, spanning a wide range of establishments – from art galleries to country pubs, Michelin-starred restaurants and local wine bars.

And the winners are…

With judges deciding that the task of choosing between two completely different but equally outstanding candidates was “as impossible as trying to compare Beethoven with The Beatles”, the top prize of Wine List of the Year 2014 was shared by two restaurants.

At almost 100 pages and around 2,500 bins, Clos Maggiore was the competition’s largest ever winner of the main award. For the extraordinary range of wines on offer, what the panel liked most about the restaurant’s list was the effort that had gone into making it so accessible to the customer. Neil Bruce commented: “80% of what you want is in the first 20% of pagesit’s a really good way of making a huge list navigable. Those first eight pages would be a great wine list on their own.”

Described as “a thing of beauty” by Ronan Sayburn MS, the Rex Whistler Restaurant’s list excelled in style, character and ease of navigation. Featuring detailed introductions, tasting notes and showcasing an impressive number of older bottles clearly bought young and aged in situ, the list was a clear award-winner for the judges.

Other winners included:

Champagne List of the Year – Texture, London
Great Value Wine List of the Year – 10 Greek Street, London
Hotel Wine List of the Year – Allium Brasserie, The Abbey Hotel, Bath
Wine Bar List of the Year – Vinoteca, London 
Steakhouse & Grill Wine List of the Year – The Big Easy Bar, BQ & Crabshack, London
Spanish Wine List of the Year – Camino, London
Small Wine List of the Year – Bell’s Diner & Bar Rooms, Bristol
One-page Wine List of the Year – The Vintry, London
Country Inn Wine List of the Year – The Wheatsheaf Inn, Northleach, Gloucestershire
Sommelier’s Award – Chez Bruce, London

A judging process like no other

Judging took place over five days by leading industry figures including Ronan Sayburn MS (RS Wine Academy), Chris Losh (Imbibe) and Neil Bruce (Studio Alto). Apart from Wine List of the Year and Champagne List of the Year, the judging panel conducted a unique selection process of building awards around the lists that they liked the most. Lists were judged on key criteria such as accuracy, aesthetic appeal, creativity, ease of navigation, quality of wine, relevance to market and value for money.

Speaking of the judging process Chris Losh (Imbibe) stated: “The judging process was lengthy, thorough, and a fascinating snapshot of where the UK is with its wine list creation in these early years of the 21st century.”

Trending in 2014

Over the course of the five days of judging, the panel were able to draw some meaningful conclusions about current on-trade trends. This year saw the on-trade making a real effort to engage with customers. Around half of this year’s entrants used tasting notes in some shape or form, and judges noted that more consideration had gone into how wines were presented to consumers.

Separating wines out by style rather than country worked well for most venues and this year even saw a few venues present the same list in two or three different ways – by style, by variety and geographically.