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Best wine lists in South Africa revealed

Culture Wine Bar in Cape Town was the big winner at the South African Star Wine List of the Year awards.

The trendy wine bar fended off fierce competition to win the award for the Best Medium-sized List in South Africa.

It won another gold star for offering the Best Sparkling Wine List in the country, before taking home the overall Grand Prix.

Culture Wine Bar is located above a restaurant in the middle of Bree Street, the culinary heart of Cape Town.

It offers a selection of fine wines from the country’s most respected names, including cult classics, hidden gems and natural wines, along with special imports from across the globe.

The wine bar is linked to the nearby Grub & Vine restaurant, both of which are operated by renowned chef Matt Manning.

Grub & Vine won the award for the Best Short Wine List (fewer than 200 listings), so the team ended up celebrating four famous victories on the night.

‘Quadruple gold for our bistro and wine bar,’ said Manning. ‘It’s an honour to be recognised by a respected international platform with presence in 33 countries, highlighting the world’s best wine lists.

‘Thank you to the whole team at both Grub & Vine and Culture Wine Bar for your hard work and passion, of which these wins are a reflection; thank you to our producers and suppliers for your fantastic wines and support of what we do; and finally, thank you to our wine community – the wine drinkers who’ve become friends.’

Eight awards were handed out in total – the Grand Prix, Best Long List, Best Medium-sized List, Best Short List, Best by the Glass List, Best Sparkling Wine List, Sustainable Wine List and Best Newcomer List.

Aubergine, a high-end restaurant in Cape Town, won the award for the Best Long List (more than 600 wines). It was up against Ellerman House in Cape Town, Noop in Paarl and Saxon Hotel, Villas and Spa in Johannesburg, which is widely regarded as the city’s most luxurious hotel.

The Saxon Hotel team did not leave empty-handed, winning the award for Best by the Glass List. The finalists in that category included Culture Wine Bar, Grub & Vine, Belthazar and ëlgr in Cape Town, Marble Restaurant in Johannesburg and The Wine Glass in Stellenbosch.

The award for Best Newcomer List went to Signature Restaurant in Umhlanga, Durban, while ëlgr earned the award for the Sustainable Wine List.

The judging panel included: Tawanda Marume, winner of the Best Sommelier of Zimbabwe award; Raimonds Tomsons, ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2023; Marc Almert, ASI Best Sommelier of the World 2019; and Julie Dupouy-Young, Best Sommelier of Ireland.

Almert said: ‘It is impressive to see the continuous development across the board, despite all struggles of the previous years. Many wine lists had an even clearer structure, focus, and good balance of local and international wines.

‘As a sommelier I was particularly excited by the large number of mature vintages on offer. Cheers to the South African sommelier community.’

Earlier this year, Alchemist in Copenhagen, Trivet in London and Prism in Berlin seized glory at the worldwide Star Wine List of the Year awards.

Meanwhile, Core by Clare Smyth in London claimed the Grand Prix at the UK-focused version of the Star Wine List of the Year awards.


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