The winners of Business Traveller’s Cellars in the Sky Awards 2020 have been announced, with Qatar Airways winning five gold awards including Best Overall Cellar.
Now in its 35th year, Cellars in the Sky has been running since 1985, celebrating the best business and first class wines served by airlines on their flights.
While you might not have had the chance to reach 35,000 feet in 2020, the time is fast approaching for a return to the skies. In the meantime, our judges have discovered the stellar wines on board to sate the thirst for travel.
The awards were dominated by Gulf carriers Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, which won a total of nine gold awards between them.
Qatar Airways scooped gold medals for Best First Class Red, Best First Class Cellar, Best Business Class Red and Best Business Class Fortified / Dessert Wine, as well as walking away with the top award for Best Overall Cellar.
Meanwhile Etihad Airways won gold medals in the Best First Class White, Best First Class Rosé, Best First Class Fortified / Dessert Wine and Best Business Class Rosé categories. The carrier also took home the largest number of award overall, with four gold, five silver and two bronze.
Other notable gold medal winners included Cathay Pacific for Best First Class Sparkling, and Air Tahiti Nui, which won gold in the Best Business Class White, Best Business Class Sparkling, and Best Business Class Cellar categories.
The judges for the 2020 awards were: masters of wine Sarah Abbott, Tim Atkin and Peter McCombie, and head judge Charles Metcalfe, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge.
Blind tastings took place in line with the government’s social distancing regulations, with Metcalfe joining via Zoom, and the five judges independently scored the wines over the course of two days.
For the first time in the competition’s history, each judge tasted every single entry individually. The circumstances may have changed, but the quality of wines and discussion amongst the judges was as animated as ever.
THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS AND SHORTLISTED AIRLINES
BEST FIRST CLASS RED
- Gold Medal: Qatar Airways – Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, 2009, Bordeaux, France
- Silver Medal: Cathay Pacific – Yarra Yering Dry Red No. 2, 2014, Yarra Valley, Australia
- Bronze Medal: Oman Air – Wolf Blass Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon, 2017, Coonawarra, Australia
BEST FIRST CLASS WHITE
- Gold Medal: Etihad Airways – Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2015, Coal River Valley, Tasmania, Australia
- Silver Medal: Etihad Airways – Grosset Springvale Riesling 2016, Clare Valley, Australia
- Bronze Medal: Cathay Pacific – Soumah “Equilibrio” Single Vineyard Chardonnay, 2017, Yarra Valley, Australia
BEST FIRST CLASS ROSÉ
- Gold Medal: Etihad Airways – Château Les Valentines 2018, Côtes de Provence, France
- Silver Medal: American Airlines – E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé, 2019, Southern Rhone Valley, France
- No bronze awarded
BEST FIRST CLASS SPARKLING
- Gold Medal: Cathay Pacific – Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002, France
- Silver Medal: Qatar Airways – Champagne Krug, Vintage 2004, France
- Bronze Medal (Joint): Oman Air; Etihad Airways – Champagne Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires 2004, France
BEST FIRST CLASS FORTIFIED/DESSERT WINE
- Gold Medal: Etihad Airways – Grahams Colheita 1986, Douro, Portugal
- Silver Medal: Qatar Airways – Dow’s Colheita Single Year Tawny Port 1996, Douro, Portugal
- Bronze Medal: Korean Air – Château Rieussec 2013, Sauternes, France
BEST-PRESENTED FIRST CLASS WINE LIST
- Gold Medal: Japan Airlines
- Highly Commended: Korean Air
BEST FIRST CLASS CELLAR
- Gold Medal: Qatar Airways
- Silver Medal: Cathay Pacific
- Bronze Medal: Etihad Airways
BEST BUSINESS CLASS RED
- Gold Medal: Qatar Airways – Vina Leyda Lot 8 Syrah 2013, Leyda Valley, Chile
- Silver Medal: Etihad Airways – Domaine Terlato and Chapoutier Lieu-dit Malako Shiraz, 2015, Pyrenees, Victoria, Australia
- Bronze Medal: British Airways – Château Malescasse Le Moulin Rose de Malescasse Haut- Médoc 2016, Bordeaux, France
BEST BUSINESS CLASS WHITE
- Gold Medal: Air Tahiti Nui – Grosset Springvale Riesling 2018, Clare Valley, Australia
- Silver Medal: EVA Air – Château La Louvière Pessac-Léognan, 2009, Bordeaux, France
- Bronze Medal: EVA Air – Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett, 2016, Mosel, Germany
- Highly Commended: British Airways – Spy Valley Sustainably Crafted Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Marlborough, New Zealand
BEST BUSINESS CLASS ROSÉ
- Gold Medal: Etihad Airways – Château Minuty “M de Minuty” Rosé 2019, Côtes de Provence, France
- Silver Medal: Japan Airlines – M. Chapoutier Domaine Tournon “Mathilda” Rosé, 2018, Victoria, Australia
- Bronze Medal: Jetblue – Lorenza Rosé, 2018, California, US
BEST BUSINESS CLASS SPARKLING
- Gold Medal: Air Tahiti Nui – Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV, France
- Silver Medal (Joint): Oman Air; Etihad Airways – Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut NV, France
- Bronze Medal (Joint): EVA Air – Champagne Castelnau Millésime Brut 2006, France; Qatar Airways – Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Rare Brut Millésime 2006, France
BEST BUSINESS CLASS FORTIFIED/DESSERT WINE
- Gold Medal: Qatar Airways – Sensi Vin Santo del Chianti 2009, Tuscany, Italy
- Silver Medal: Etihad Airways – Dow’s Colheita 2002, Douro, Portugal
- Bronze Medal: Oman Air – Château Suau, Sauternes, 2ème Cru Classé, 2016, Bordeaux, France
BEST BUSINESS CLASS CELLAR
- Gold Medal: Air Tahiti Nui
- Silver Medal: Qatar Airways
- Bronze Medal: Oman Air
BEST-PRESENTED BUSINESS CLASS WINE LIST
- Gold Medal: EVA Air
- Highly Commended: Air Tahiti Nui
BEST OVERALL CELLAR
- Gold Medal: Qatar Airways
- Silver Medal: Etihad Airways
- Bronze Medal: Oman Air