Australia’s Wine List of the Year + Judy Hirst Award



69 Bynya Rd, Whale Beach, Sydney 
(02) 9974 5599

Cuisine Modern Australian
WINE LIST Niels Sluiman/Riccardo Molfetta/Christian Baeppler
WINEs ON LIST 1650 (82 by the glass)
WINE PRICES $$$ ($12-$92 by the glass)

With sweeping views over Whale Beach, many would flock to Jonah’s for the vista alone. However, one suspects that the wine list, sparkling in presentation and panoramic in nature, is an equivalent drawcard, particularly for wine lovers.

The restaurant has been in continuous operation for over 80 years with contemporary Australian cuisine currently composed by executive chef Logan Campbell and head chef Oscar Gorosito. Niels Sluiman is the group head sommelier. Jonah’s wine list has been on the radar of the judges for many years due to its diversity and depth, receiving three glasses every year since 2011. Along with the accolade of 2017 Gourmet Traveller WINE Wine List of the Year, it also takes out awards for Best Wine List NSW and Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List. Congratulations to all who have contributed to this magnificent tome.

Over 1,600 wines fill the pages, from all corners of the globe, encompassing a broad range of prices and styles. Two temperature-controlled cellars house over 10,000 bottles, including an extensive selection of half bottles and magnums, plus a few larger format bottles. This collection makes for a thrilling by-the-glass offering with over 80 choices, including six varietal wine flights. Prestigious wines, including many with age, are served via Coravin, a system Jonah’s adopted early. Consequently, diners can enjoy many rare wines at the peak of their maturity. Mention must be made of Jonah’s wine preservation policy. With so many wines by the glass, it is comforting and informative to know how the wines are being stored after opening. It is hoped other eateries and bars will follow their lead.

The highlights of the main list are many and varied. A stunning selection of Champagne, neatly divided by composition with detailed information on origin. And within the sparkling wine category, you’ll find quality Prosecco, Franciacorta and top local fizz. Within each varietal group, the best of Australia stand proudly alongside premier international names. Additional complexity exists with select back vintages of our finest producers, including Grosset, Tyrrell’s and Giaconda. Australian chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz are showcased in full glory. International highlights include Alsatian, Austrian and German rieslings, as well as a mind-blowing collection of Burgundy. And there are plenty of refined options for lovers of cabernet and blends, particularly if you are a fan of Bordeaux. The pinot noir listing from New Zealand is highly impressive as is the aged Vouvray, Spanish tempranillo and dessert wine selections.

It’s nice to see depth in categories that are often overlooked including grenache, cabernet franc and gamay; rosé, which is segmented by variety; sauvignon blanc and blends; and lesser known European white varieties. Informative maps and producer spotlights on Bollinger and Joh. Jos. Prüm add interest and colour to the list. For pairings to accompany the degustation, there is a choice of standard or prestige wines. Matching wines are also available for the two-, three- or four-course dining options.

Jonah’s Christian Baeppler (left) and head sommelier Niels Sluiman

It is true that great wine lists are not created overnight. Christian Baeppler lifted Jonah’s to three-glass status in 2011 and worked as the head sommelier until the end of 2014. Luke Collard, who joined the team for two years in 2015, left an indelible imprint and raised the list to a new level of clarity and sophistication through his refreshment and refinement of the selection. Under Sluiman, further significant improvements have been made and the list is looking more polished, and accessible, than ever. Contemporary producers mingle effortlessly with the elite. There is now increased diversity in the Champagne offering with the inclusion of more grower Champagnes, and the Burgundy suite has been enhanced and re-energised. Working with Sluiman is sommelier Riccardo Molfetta as well as Baeppler, who has recently re-joined the team.

This year’s Judy Hirst award is a joint award, shared between Niels Sluiman and Christian Baeppler, recognising the increased refinement and complexity under Sluiman as well as the solid foundations laid by Baeppler. TONI PATERSON MW

wine list of the year Finalists

Aria Brisbane

1 Eagle St, Brisbane
(07) 3233 2555

CUISINEModern Classic
WINE LIST Ian Trinkle
WINEs ON LIST 1000 (54 by the glass)
WINE PRICES $$$ ($12-$266 by the glass)

This stellar list deserves its multiple accolades just for the excellent selection of Queensland's best. The succinct 'by the glass' list and rare cult wines served via Coravin speaks clearly  of Ian Trinkle's talents. The artistic look adds flair, the extraordinary depth and breath a compelling reason to visit soon.


Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks 
(02) 9251 5600

CUISINEModern Australian
WINE LIST Amanda Yallop
WINEs ON LIST 520 (49 by the glass)
WINE PRICES $$$ ($12-$82 by the glass)

Amanda Yallop’s superlative wine list at Quay is everything you expect in an iconic Sydney Harbour dining experience. She traverses the length and breadth of the international wine world, embracing classic superstars and cutting edge trends with effortless poise. Think Cullen, Foillard, Gravner, Rippon and Sami-Odi.