Three Restaurants in China Win the 2023 Great 100 Terroir Wineries and Wines Italian Wine Lists of the Year Awards

The winners of the Great 100 Italy Terroir Wineries and Wines Italian Wine Lists of the Year Awards were announced during the gala dinner in Shanghai’s St.Regis Hotel on Sunday July 9. These Wine Lists of the Year Awards are part of the awards ceremony of the annual Great 100 Terroir Wineries and Wines of Italy show

The winners of the Great 100 Italy Terroir Wineries and Wines Italian Wine Lists of the Year Awards were announced during the gala dinner in Shanghai’s St.Regis Hotel on Sunday July 9. These Wine Lists of the Year Awards are part of the awards ceremony of the annual Great 100 Terroir Wineries and Wines of Italy show that is co-organized by TasteSpirit and the Shanghai United Media group (SUMG), respectively one of China’s leading wine media and education companies and one of the country’s leaders in omnimedia (SUMG is the country’s largest owner of newspaper dailies, but also boast ten different websites and many other social media channels under its control).

The awards were created to celebrate those restaurants in China that distinguish themselves by their selection of fine Italian wines, making a concerted effort to have on their wine lists not just the famous names in Italian wine, but also small family-run, high-quality wineries with limited volume productions. Likewise, special consideration is given to those wine lists featuring wines made with rare native grapes as well as small-batch wines. Clearly, those wine lists that have wines from a majority of Italy’s twenty regions and autonomous provinces are also especially meritorious, as opposed to those that simply focus on three or four well-known regions such as Piedmont, Sicily and Tuscany only, or mostly. Last but not least, an enthusiastic sommelier team that actively engages customers in discussing and describing Italian wines is a real plus too: given Italy’s fascinating but at times complex world of wines, knowledgeable sommeliers that are able to guide and recommend wines while explaining the characteristics of the often rare and unknown grapes used to make them is a note of merit.

The 2023 Great 100 Italy Best Wine Lists of the Year Awards were awarded to:


Great 100 Italy Wine List of the Year Award

Winner: DA VITTORIO Shanghai Ristorante (Shanghai)

Restaurant manager and Head Sommelier Emanuele Restelli accepted the award on behalf of the Da Vittorio Shanghai restaurant staff. I have stated and written already years ago that Da Vittorio Shanghai is one of the world’s three best Italian restaurants outside of Italy and nothing that has happened since has changed my mind: the place is simply a spectacular dining destination. The wine list is excellent boasting many of the world’s top names and not just from Italy but all over the world. Clearly, the Italian wine selection is especially strong and it currently counts over 265 different labels from practically all of the country’s regions.

The original Da Vittorio was founded in the beautiful city of Bergamo by Vittorio Cerea and his wife Bruna in 1966 (it later moved to Brusaporto, a small hamlet just outside Bergamo), and is universally recognized as one of Italy’s two or three best restaurants (and it is also, by far, the country’s best caterer). Cerea loved fish and the selling point of his restaurant was originally its finned orientation: Bergamo and Da Vittorio quickly became a must-go to restaurant for international epicures and sybarites. The first Michelin star came in 1978, the second in 1996 and the third in 2010. The Cerea family has gone on to open many other restaurants (for example, Da Vittorio St. Moritz), with Da Vittorio Shanghai its first venture outside of Europe opening in 2019 (and earning back to back Michelin stars, a first in 2019 and the second in 2020). Anyone who has eaten there knows a third star cannot be too far behind.

Great 100 Italy Best Value Wine Lists of the Year Award

Winner: FRASCA at The Middle House (Shanghai)

Head sommelier James Teng is one of China’s four or five most accomplished wine directors and over the years he has helped form a bevy of the country’s best sommeliers, who after having learnt under his wing have gone on to lead their own sommelier brigades and take charge of their own wine lists. He was for the longest time associated with Hakkasan, working first in London and then in Shanghai, prior to moving to The Middle House Hotel complex in Shanghai, where he oversees the wine lists of restaurants such as Café Gray Deluxe and Frasca. Frasca counts over 160 Italian wines from practically every region, and you can find a smattering of older vintages too (always hard to come by in China) which only helps make the dining experience that much more interesting and memorable. The wine list is exceptional not just in its scope but also in its being fairly-priced, with many wines costing less than at other Shanghai restaurants of similar fame and quality level. Fashionable Frasca is located within a hotel, but the food of new chef Francesco Andreoni and the wine list, not to mention the beautiful interior design and comfortable, casual but chic surroundings, make for a truly winning combination.

Great 100 Italy Rising Wine Lists of the Year Award

Winner: ENSUE (Shenzhen)

Fewer restaurant openings have been talked about more in China than that of Ensue, Shenzhen’s top table and a magnet for worldly epicures. Opened by Christopher Kostow in 2019 (the youngest American-born chef ever to win three Michelin stars), Ensue brings a bit of California’s famous Meadowood restaurant mentality and cuisine to southern China (Kostow is the Restaurant at Meadowood’s Executive Chef). Manning the stoves in China is Miles Pundsack-Poe, a Canadian chef that had been working at the Meadowood prior to moving to China and take over the pots and pans at Ensue. In 2022, the restaurant placed in nineteenth position in Asia’s 50 Best restaurant list, and was thirty-first in the 2023 edition. The Head Sommelier was until very recent Della Tang (winner of last year as “Asia’s Best Sommelier” award), and much of the credit for the restaurant’s wine list must go to her and to Danni Wang, her former Assistant Head Sommelier and now newly promoted to the top spot. Both young ladies are exceptionally talented and passionate: suffice it to say that this is the sort of place where Danni Wang will gladly engage at the table with you on the merits of Frappato (a local, native grape of southwestern Sicily), not exactly the most common of grapes and not usually the most common subject of tableside discussions in restaurants. But it is so at Ensue, and therein lies part of this beautiful restaurant’s charm and magic. The wine list boasts a number of excellent Italian wines, the number of which is increasing all the time.

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