is the highest award given by the magazine's annual dinging
guide which contains the listing of about 4000 restaurants
around the world with outstanding lists.
Chef Thomas Keller's Laundry offers
a wine list with nearly 1,800 labels backed by an inventory
of 12,500 bottles. Bordeaux first-growth verticals focus
on the best vintages only, such as 1996, 1995, 1990, 1986,
1982 and 1961.
Burgundies on offer include several wines,
each from top producers such as Raveneau, Coche-Dury, Comtes
Lafon, Carillon, Leflaive, Roty, Jayer, Rouget and Domaine
de la Romanée-Conti.
The California Cabernet section has verticals
of Phelps Insignia dating to 1977 ($1,000), Beaulieu Vineyard
Georges de Latour to 1968 ($785), Bryant to 1992 ($2,100),
Colgin to 1992 (Herb Lamb Vineyard, $2,100) and Shafer Hillside
Select to 1987 ($575).
But the focus is more on recent vintages
from wineries such as Blankiet, Bond, Covenant, Hewitt,
Paul Hobbs, Hollywood & Vine, Hundred Acre, Igneous,
Kapcsandy, Kobalt, Merus, Ramey, Revana, Sirita, Sloan and
Vine Cliff, which are hard to find easily on most wine lists.
The joint winner, Palais Coburg is the
restaurant of a 35-suite luxury hotel in the center of Vienna.
It sits above a series of six wine cellars that store more
than 60,000 bottles, with 5,000 different labels. Last year
alone, wine worth more than $21 million was added, doubling
"It's a lot of walking around if you
are looking for just a bottle or two, but it's good exercise,"
said wine director Thomas Breitwieser.
Large-format first-growth Bordeaux and
grand cru Burgundy stand imposingly in the 30,000
bottle "French cellar". It includes magnums of
'45 Mouton and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche,
and an 18-liter bottle of '95 Cheval-Blanc. Another section
is dedicated totally to the luscious Sauternes of Château
d'Yquem, the hues of the wines cascading from the gold of
the young vintages to the amber of an 1811.
Restaurant Awards given annually by Wine
Spectator recognize restaurants whose wine lists offer
interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine
and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. There are three
levels of awards:
The Award of Excellence is the magazine's
basic award for lists that offer a well-chosen selection
of quality producers. The Best of Award of Excellence is
the second-tier award, created to give special recognition
to restaurants that have lists displaying either vintage
depth or excellent breadth spread over several regions.
The Grand Award is given to restaurants
that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the
quality of their wine programs, typically offering 1,500
selections or more from top producers and outstanding depth
in mature vintages, large-format bottles, excellent harmony
with the menu, and superior organization, presentation and
Diva Restaurant of Delhi has already been
a recipient of the Award of Excellence. The full list of
the restaurants and their awards comes out next week and
we hope to fill you in, on the Indian winners.
If you are a wine lover and plan to
be in California or Vienna, plan a memorable evening and
eat at these two best restaurants in the world. But please
be warned and don't walk in unannounced. Reservation of
up to 2 months in advance is required. You may get lucky
though, if there are some last minute cancellations. I wasn't,
when I wanted to eat at the French Laundry earlier this