Wolfgang Kneidinger has been overseeing the wine program at five-star Viennese hotel and fine dining venue, Palais Coburg Residenz, for the past five years. Palais Coburg’s wine list has triumphed in the awards since 2014–putting it in the running for the inaugural Champions’ League in 2017. Up against the likes of Eleven Madison Park in New York and Robuchon au Dôme in Macau, the hotel restaurant claimed the award for the Best Overall Wine List 2017, for its extraordinary and vast wine offering. Read on for WFW and Kneidinger’s discussion of inspiring wines, trends, and more.
Congratulations on the success of Palais Coburg in the World’s Best Wine Lists 2017; not only claiming a three-star award for the third consecutive year, but being awarded the title of Best Overall Wine List 2017 in the inaugural Champions’ League. What does it mean to you to win this award?
It’s a big honor for us, and a sign that we are on the right track. The development of the wine list is still going on. Each year we sell out between 500-600 wine positions but also increase. There are still many ideas of how we can constantly increase the quality of the wine list. So we don’t rest on our laurels!
How did you and the team celebrate?
We had a nice evening with one, two or more bottles. I have a good memory of a bottle of 1940 Vega Sicilia Unico.
Can you describe your wine list?
You can find famous names but also unknown producers on our wine list. For me, it’s not important that the vineyard is biodynamic, or whether they do natural or commercial wines; just the quality of the product can be a reason to be on the list (in relation to the buy-in price). My favorite wine regions are German Whites, Rhône Valley, Burgundy, California, Austria, and Bordeaux. And actually these are also the main focus in our wine list.
What inspires your wine list?
The wines we try and love.
Have you noticed any trends in the wine or the restaurant scene?
Biodynamic wines are still very trendy; but the natural wine-making trend is perhaps not as trendy as in previous years. Nonetheless the good producers making natural wine and orange wine are still successful. And Burgundy rules.
What wine regions or producers have inspired you recently?
2014 White Burgundy, and 2015 Rheinhessen and Nahe.
What bottle of wine would you normally reach for to drink?
That strongly depends on the guest, the atmosphere, and the feeling.
What advice would you give to others entering the World’s Best Wine Lists?
I will not give any advice; there are so many great individual sommeliers and wine lists, they don’t need my advice.
Favorite dish on the menu?
There are many fantastic dishes on the menu, my favorite changes each week! The greatest is to taste new dishes with many different wines to find the perfect balance.
Go-to wine after work to relax?
After a day with tasting many wines, very often a beer is the best solution.
Favorite drinking spot nearby?
There are many great restaurants in Vienna and also some fantastic wine bars. It would not be fair to mention just one. Everybody should visit Vienna to find out.