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22 Restaurants with Star Sommeliers

The tasting aces at these diverse places will lend their skills to next week's Wine Spectator New York Wine Experience
Photo by: Matt Furman
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House New York won a Wine Spectator Grand Award in 2017 for its 2,220-selection list overseen by Crystl Horton and David O'Day.

Posted: October 12, 2017

How important are the sommelier's tasting chops to a restaurant's wine program? Well, we certainly value them at Wine Spectator's New York Wine Experience, held Oct. 19 – 21. Guests will get the chance to taste dozens of rare and exciting wines from top producers—but before each glass is served, a team of crack sommeliers from around the world works behind the scenes to ensure that each pour is perfect, with Andrea Fulton-Higgins in the lead role for 31 years now. The somms are lending their talents and time for a good cause: The event benefits the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation. These somms' mastery will shine next weekend, but their impeccable tastes can also be appreciated at these 22 diverse Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning establishments where they ply their skills year-round, each wine list a testament to the passionate wine pros behind it.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 87 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


The Angus Barn

9401 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, N.C.
Telephone (919) 781-2444
Website www.angusbarn.com
Open Dinner, daily
Grand Award

Angus Barn
The Angus Barn serves upscale steak-house fare in a rustic setting.

The Angus Barn has been serving its beloved steaks since 1960, and today it still maintains its country charm, from its red barn doors to its signature barrel of apples in place of after-dinner mints. The restaurant’s wine list, captained by wine director Henk Schuitemaker, features 1,650 selections with strengths in California, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Italy, and has earned the Angus Barn a Grand Award every year since 1989. Schuitemaker joined the team as a server in 1985 before taking charge of the beverage team just four years later. He’s since grown the wine program to an inventory of 26,000 bottles.


Aureole Las Vegas

Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (702) 632-7401
Website www.charliepalmer.com
Open Dinner, Monday to Saturday
Grand Award

Anthony Mair
A wine tower of 10,000 bottles supports Aureole Las Vegas' 2,700-selection list.

Note: Aureole is open for service. Mandalay Bay parent company MGM Resorts is collecting donations for victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting at mgmresortsfoundation.org.

One of five Grand Award winners in Las Vegas, Aureole has held the title since 2000 for its comprehensive 2,700-selection list. Wine director Harley Carbery manages the programs of all Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino restaurants, in addition to the restaurants at the Delano Las Vegas. Aureole’s list is impressive across a world of wine, from Burgundy and Bordeaux, to California, Italy, Spain and Germany. The upscale American restaurant is part of the Charlie Palmer Group, which also owns Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners Dry Creek Kitchen, Aureole in New York City and four Charle Palmer Steak locations.


Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 575-5129
Website www.delfriscos.com
Open Dinner, daily; lunch, Monday to Friday
Grand Award

Matt Furman
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House New York is set in a cavernous dining room across the street from Radio City Music Hall.

Excelling in food, wine and service, the Manhattan location of Del Frisco’s epitomizes a great New York steak house. The restaurant earned its first Best of Award of Excellence in 2000 before being promoted to the Grand Award in 2017. Wine director Crystl Horton’s 2,220 selections showcase California Cabernets with an abundance of verticals and a Private Reserve California Cabernet ($70) made for Del Frisco’s by Napa Valley–based vintner Robert Foley. The list also offers lengthy Bordeaux first-growth verticals, as well as more eclectic bottles from New World regions.


Grill 23 & Bar

161 Berkeley St., Boston, Mass.
Telephone (617) 542-2255
Website www.grill23.com
Open Dinner, daily
Grand Award

Todd Mazer
Brahm Callahan oversees the wine programs at restaurants in Himmel Hospital Group, including Grill 23 & Bar.

Master Sommelier Brahm Callahan is at the helm of Grill 23 & Bar's world-class wine program, which earned a Grand Award in 2017. The 1,900 selections include traditional steak-house pairings like California Cabernet alongside more surprising selections from Piedmont and the Rhône. Grill 23 & Bar strives to invest in older trophy bottles while providing a number of affordable selections under $100. As the corporate beverage director of Himmel Hospitality Group, Callahan also manages the programs of Boston-area Restaurant Award winners Harvest and Post 390.


HMF at The Breakers

The Breakers, 1 S. County Road, Palm Beach, Fla.
Telephone (561) 659-8480
Website www.thebreakers.com
Open Dinner, daily
Grand Award

HMF at The Breakers
Master Sommelier Virginia Philip is part of the Grand Award–winning beverage team for HMF at The Breakers.

A stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean, the restaurant now called HMF at the Breakers is one of just four restaurants to maintain a Grand Award since 1981. The restaurant’s retro Palm Beach glamor is enhanced by its massive and meticulously organized 2,000-selection wine list, overseen by wine director and Master Sommelier Virginia Philip and a team of sommeliers including fellow Master Sommelier Juan Gomez. The program shines in Burgundy, Bordeaux, California, Italy, the Rhône, Spain and Champagne.


The Modern

9 W. 53rd St., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 333-1220
Website www.themodernnyc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday
Grand Award

Evan Sung
French-influenced cuisine meets a global wine list at the Modern in New York City.

The Modern has been a Restaurant Award winner since 2006, when it earned the Best of Award of Excellence. In 2016, the French-influenced American restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art doubled the number of selections on its wine list, securing a promotion to Grand Award. Now offering 2,950 bottles supported by an inventory of 16,000, the Modern shows a wide range of strengths in California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône, Italy, Champagne, Germany, Australia and Spain. The beverage team includes sommelier Kyungmoon Kim and is led by wine director Michaël Engelmann, who also serves as wine director of Award of Excellence winner Untitled at the Whitney Museum.


PM & Vänner

Storgatan 22-24, Växjö, Sweden
Telephone (46) 4-7070-0444
Website www.pmrestauranger.se
Open Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday
Grand Award

Martin Dyrløv Madsen
The Grand Award–winning wine program at PM & Vänner complements the regional Scandinavian cuisine.

In the woodlands of Sweden, PM & Vänner houses an upscale Scandinavian restaurant with a Grand Award–winning program. The pleasantly remote boutique hotel has a list of 4,400 selections, with 14,000 bottles of inventory in the cellar. Head sommelier Rubén Sanz Ramiro particularly favors Austrian wine labels such as Knoll, F.X. Pichler and Prager, but offers an array of classics from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and Spain. Though the hotel is certainly off the beaten path, Ramiro has established PM & Vänner as a global wine destination.


Post Hotel Dining Room

Post Hotel & Spa, 200 Pipestone Rd., Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Telephone (403) 522-3989
Website www.posthotel.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily; Closed Oct. 9 through Nov. 22, 2017
Grand Award

G. Gerla
In scenic Lake Louise, Post Hotel & Spa offers a Grand Award–winning wine list and luxurious accommodations.

Originally opened in 1942 as the Lake Louise Ski Lodge in the picturesque hamlet of Lake Louise, the Post Hotel and Spa in the Canadian Rockies drew inspiration from skiing destinations in the Swiss Alps. Today, its culinary reputation rivals its skiing with a contemporary Dining Room. Sommelier Janine Loetscher helps guests peruse the 2,570-selection list, which has earned a Grand Award since 2002. The program showcases wines from California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Rhône, Piedmont and Australia, as well as plenty of values and western Canadian choices.


Tribeca Grill

375 Greenwich St.
Telephone (212) 941-3900
Website www.myriadrestaurantgroup.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

Quentin Bacon
Tribeca Grill has been a destination for food and wine lovers since it opened in 1990.

This Lower Manhattan stalwart, co-owned primarily by Robert De Niro and restaurateur Drew Nieporent, harbors an exciting wine cellar in its snug, serpentine basement. Longtime wine director David Gordon, who has been with Tribeca Grill since it opened in 1990, won the restaurant its first Best of Award of Excellence in 1998 and a Grand Award four years later. The 2,200-selection list splits its focus between California Cabernet staples and an impressive selection of enviable bottlings from the Rhône, Burgundy and Bordeaux. It also features a page titled "Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year," showcasing the No. 1 wine in our Top 100 lists from most years going back to 1989.


Acanto

18 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 578-0763
Website www.acantochicago.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Kira Williams
Jon McDaniel has earned a number of Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards in his various positions at top restaurants for wine.

With a strong Italian wine focus to match its fare, Acanto has held a Best of Award of Excellence since 2016. Among the 520 selections are categories such as “Glass Jumpers” and “Rich and Bold,” plus a “Fantastic Featured Five” page of intriguing lesser-known selections that changes monthly. The list is managed by Jon McDaniel, corporate beverage director of Chicago’s Gage Hospitality Group, which includes Restaurant Award winners Beacon Tavern, the Gage and Coda di Volpe.


Ai Fiori

Langham Place, Fifth Avenue, 400 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 613-8660
Website www.aifiorinyc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Evan Sung
Ai Fiori serves a refined Italian menu with a selection of wines focusing on northern parts of the country.

With 1,300 selections and 35 wines available by the glass, Ai Fiori has held Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence for seven years. The list focuses mostly on northern Italian bottles but also excels in Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône, Champagne and California. Wine director Colin Thoreen manages the program along with Hristo Zisovski, beverage director of Altamarea Group LLC, which also owns Restaurant Award winners Vaucluse, Marea and Ristorante Morini.


Bobby Flay Steak

Borgata Hotel & Casino, 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City, N.J.
Telephone (609) 317-1000
Website www.theborgata.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday
Best of Award of Excellence

Bobby Flay Steak
Chef Bobby Flay's signature bold flavors are matched by a strong wine list at Bobby Flay Steak in Atlantic City.

Bobby Flay Steak in Atlantic City, N.J., celebrates wines from California, Italy, and the classic French regions of Burgundy and Bordeaux to pair with steak-house favorites like prime rib with Béarnaise butter. Sommelier Sabrina Schatz' program also offers plenty of Spanish and Rhône picks. The 510-selection list, supported by an inventory of 4,400 bottles, has held Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence for a decade.


Fiola

601 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 628-2888
Website www.fioladc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Beth Kennedy
At Fiola, guests can enjoy a daily-changing menu and a wine list with strengths that span the globe.

Just blocks from the National Mall, between the White House and the Capitol, you’ll find Best of Award of Excellence winner Fiola, the flagship restaurant of chef Fabio Trabocchi. With the help of sommelier Jennifer Foucher, wine director Casper Rice guides the 1,405-selection list, which focuses on Piedmont, Tuscany, Burgundy, Bordeaux, California and Champagne, including nearly 60 options in half-bottle.


Fleur by Hubert Keller

Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (702) 632-9400
Website www.hubertkeller.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

MGM Resorts International
Fleur's wine list features 23 wines by the glass to pair with its small plates of French cuisine.

Note: Fleur is open for service. Mandalay Bay parent company MGM Resorts is collecting donations for victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shooting at mgmresortsfoundation.org.

French chef Hubert Keller’s Las Vegas concept features a menu of small plates that span the globe, with an expansive wine list to match. Wine director Harley Carbery works with sommelier (and wife) Theresa Carbery on the Best of Award of Excellence–winning program at Fleur, which has held its title since 2011. The 600 selections explore California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and beyond. To complement the small-plates format, Fleur offers 43 half bottles and 23 wines by the glass.


Fleurie Restaurant

108 Third St. N.E., Charlottesville, Va.
Telephone (434) 971-7800
Website www.fleurierestaurant.com
Open Dinner, Monday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Fleurie
Erin Scala serves as wine director for Fleurie, which earned its first Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence in 2016.

At Fleurie, careful sourcing is as important for the wine list as it is for the locally driven fare. Wine director Erin Scala oversees the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list offering a mix of high-end bottles and affordable options. The 350-selection list always includes at least 60 to 80 bottles priced at $65 or less, with particular value in Chenin Blanc and Northern Rhône Syrah. There are also numerous local bottles from Virginia wineries.


Jessamine

Montage Palmetto Bluff, 477 Mount Pella Rd., Bluffton, S.C.
Telephone (843) 706-6500
Website www.montagehotels.com/palmettobluff/dining
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Jessamine
Wine director Jesse Rodriguez has worked at several Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning establishments.

Named after South Carolina's official state flower, Jessamine embodies Southern comfort in the luxurious setting of the Montage Palmetto Bluff Hotel. The Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list offers 2,000 bottles with strengths in California, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Italy. Having served on the beverage teams of the French Laundry, Addison and Studio, wine director Jesse Rodriguez is seasoned in working with Restaurant Award–winning programs.


Le Diplomate

1601 14th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 332-3333
Website www.lediplomatedc.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

James Jackson
Stephen Starr's Le Diplomate planted the restaurateur's flag in Washington, D.C.

Restaurateur Stephen Starr’s D.C. restaurant Le Diplomate earned an Award of Excellence in 2014 before being promoted to Best of Award of Excellence in 2016. The old-school French ambience is reminiscent of Le Coucou, Starr’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning collaboration with chef Daniel Rose in New York City. Corporate wine director Erik Segelbaum’s 350-selection list has a fitting focus on France, yet offers a number of bottles from regions around the globe, from California and Washington to South Africa and New Zealand.


Lincoln Ristorante

152 W. 65th St., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 359-6500
Website www.lincolnristorante.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

In New York City’s Lincoln Center plaza, Lincoln Ristorante serves hearty Italian dishes and a Best of Award of Excellence–winning list of 450 selections with a focus on the country and particular strengths in Piedmont and Tuscany. Aaron von Rock, sommelier with Patina Restaurant Group that owns Lincoln, designated certain “feature pages” with specific themes–such as a vineyard focus or varietal profile–to guide guests to the right bottle. Examples include a vintage highlight of 2004 Barolos and a page of four selections from producer Luca Roagna.


Porter House Bar and Grill

10 Columbus Cir., Fourth Floor, Time Warner Center, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 823-9500
Website www.porterhousenyc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Porter House Bar and Grill
Porter House Bar and Grill has particularly strong California selections and a solid by-the-glass program.

Porter House Bar and Grill opened in 2006, earning Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence in 2007 before being promoted to Best of Award of Excellence in 2008. Wine director Brad Nugent’s list of 700 selections focuses on domestic wines, especially California, while offering exciting selections from Italy, Bordeaux and Burgundy. There are 36 wines available by the glass, including “reserve selections” such as Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2015 ($25) and Casanuova Delle Cerbaie Brunello di Montalcino 2006 ($40).


Rebelle

218 Bowery, Ground Floor, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (917) 639-3880
Website www.rebellenyc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Evan Sung
Head sommelier Kimberly Prokoshyn helps manage the inventory of 8,000 bottles at Rebelle.

Rebelle holds Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence for its 1,700 selections managed by wine director Patrick Cappiello and head sommelier Kimberly Prokoshyn. The list is exclusively French and American with particular standouts in Burgundy, California, Loire, Bordeaux, Rhône, Champagne and New York. There are several strong verticals, including seven vintages of Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape.


Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar

205 108th Ave. N.E., Bellevue, Wash.
Telephone (425) 456-0010
Website www.seastarrestaurant.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Darren Zemanek
Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar brings fresh seafood and a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list to Washington state.

Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar, a spot with sure appeal for seafood and wine lovers, has held Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence since 2006. Each of the restaurant’s six sommeliers, including Stephanie Schrankel, has achieved a minimum of Level II Certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Leading the team is wine director Erik Liedholm, whose 955 selections span the globe and feature a number of lengthy verticals. Highlights include California, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne.


Frontera Grill / Topolobampo

445 N. Clark St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 661-1434
Website www.rickbayless.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Award of Excellence

Topolobampo
The impressive wine list at Frontera Grill and Topolobampo complements Rick Bayless' renowned Mexican fare.

Chicago-based chef Rick Bayless is a standard-bearer for contemporary Mexican cuisine. His restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo feature rich flavors of Latin America and a wine list of 250 bottles that has held an Award of Excellence since 1992. Wine director Jill Gubesch’s program shows particular strength in California, France and the underappreciated wines of Mexico.

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