Finalists for Sommelier of the Year 2018
Photography: Caitlyn Rees: Ben Hansen; Stokehouse: Marcel Aucar; Patrick White: Meaghan Coles.
CAITLYN REES, FRED'S, SYDNEY
There's something about the way Caitlyn Rees talks wine that makes it dangerously easy to say yes to that extra bottle. Her knowledge of the ever-changing list at Fred's, which is compiled in collaboration with Merivale group master sommelier Franck Moreau and travels from Burgundy to Armenia, is impressive. Her quiet assurance will be familiar to regulars of The Wine Library and Momofuku Seiobo, but at Fred's, her first head sommelier gig, she has stepped up both in terms of confidence and finding a fitting showcase for her talents. Rees' enthusiasm is contagious, but more importantly she takes the time to read her customers, making her recommendations precise.
In short: A true young-gun.
GAVIN CREMMING, STOKEHOUSE, ST KILDA
The bar at Stokehouse.
Calm, assured and passionate about the grape, Gavin Cremming has impressed us with his attention to detail - in everything from temperature to glassware - since his time at Coda and Tonka. At Stokehouse he makes the case for drinking well without blowing the budget (unless you want to). Our kind of sommelier.
In short: Relax, he's got you covered.
PATRICK WHITE, HARDY'S VERANDAH RESTAURANT, CRAFERS
After more than 20 years in restaurants from Sydney to Magill Estate to the UK, Patrick White has loosened up and added a pleasing dash of humour to help navigate his weighty list at the new Hardy's Verandah Restaurant. The invitation to build an extraordinary cellar for the showpiece restaurant at lavishly refurbished Mount Lofty House lured him back to Adelaide, and he has grasped the opportunity with zeal. Having sourced museum stock direct from producers, White spans the world with his suggestions, though he also offers canny tips on rarities from the neighbouring Piccadilly Valley and other local boutique artisans.
In short: Treasure hunter.