Featured in the international magazines’ annual Restaurant Awards dining guide alongside nearly 3,800 top establishments from 80 countries around the world, it is the second year in a row that QT Wellington’s signature French fine dining restaurant Hippopotamus has earned a coveted Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence to celebrate its prestigious wine programme.
Hippopotamus is one of four restaurants in New Zealand to be recognised in the 2020 awards and the only restaurant in Wellington.
Hippopotamus is one of 1,387 restaurants to rank in the Best of Awards of Excellence category, reserved for those that invest time in extensive staff training, innovative menu pairings and showpiece wine cellars.
Stocked with more than 850 wines, the Hippopotamus cellar is particularly known for its unique range of classic and legendary wines from New Zealand and France. Ranging from the hyper-local Martinborough region to those further afield, the list also features selections from around the globe, spanning Italy, Spain, North and South America, South Africa, Australia, and even Iran.
Along with his talented team, head Sommelier and Restaurant manager Florent Souche handpicks each bottle.
“To receive this award is an incredible honour and testament to my team’s tireless dedication. We work seamlessly alongside Executive Chef Jiwan Do to ensure the highest quality of wines that pair perfectly with the restaurant’s dining menu,” expressed Souche.
Since earning a Wine Spectator award in 2019, Hippopotamus invested in a new cellar, allowing for an expansion of the restaurant’s wine offerings plus additions to the ageing cellar for future releases.
“Well-deserving of this honour, Florent and the Hippopotamus team have worked especially are throughout a year marked with both significant improvements to our cellar and unprecedented challenges,” said Ian Charlton, Hotel Manager of QT Wellington.
“Under the leadership of director of Food and Beverage Gordon Douglas, the team has introduced innovative ways to keep the Hippopotamus spirit alive while the restaurant is in hibernation.”
While Hippopotamus’ full operation is on a temporary break, Wellingtonians can still enjoy the curated collection of wines in their own homes. For those looking to add some exquisite lines to their collection, Hippopotamus launched its Takeaway Wine Cellar earlier this year, opening the exclusive cellar to the public for the first time in 13 years.
Hippopotamus’ Prestige Wine List collection boasts rare back vintages, half bottles, and other selections not commercially available or sold elsewhere. Some of the highlights and Florent’s top picks include:
- 1970 Conde de Los Andes ‘Gran Reserve’, a stunning Spanish red
- Te Mata Estate ‘Coleraine’ Cabernet Blend, with vintages from 2002
- Rhone Valley HERMITAGE vintages from Jean-Louis Chave
- 2016 and 2017 Craggy Range ‘Les Beaux Cailloux’ Chardonnay, both vintages are sold out elsewhere
- A grand selection of Bordeaux with a range of rare vintages, notably the 2001 Chateau Cheval Blanc
For collectors or those with a special occasion to toast to, Florent is available to make personal recommendations.
To raise a glass to the Wine Spectator awards win, Head Sommelier, Florent Souche, will be hosting a wine pairing masterclass at Hippopotamus in August. Special vintages will be uncorked, and Executive Chef Jiwon Do will match delicious local delicacies to eight flights of wine.
Where: Hippopotamus restaurant, QT Wellington
When: Friday 14th August and Saturday 15th August, 5:30pm and 8:30pm