National carrier Qantas may be fighting skirmishes on several fronts, but no one can dispute the chances of getting a good glass of wine in its business and first class cabins after it dominated the Cellars In The Sky awards for the fifth consecutive year yesterday.
The awards started in 1985 and since 2009, the Flying Kangaroo has taken home at least four gongs each year – a greater share of the 13 possible awards each subsequent year than any of its international airline rivals.
In the awards announced overnight in London, Qantas collected five gongs for best overall, business and first class wine cellars, as well as awards for its choice of first class white wine (Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2009) and first class sparking wine (Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000).
The result speaks not just to Qantas’s skill in selecting wines for passengers who fly at the pointy end of the plane, but also to the quality and diversity of local wines from which the airline is able to select.
The exception lies in sparkling wines, where the company chooses to offer French champagne to business and first class customers upon boarding.
However, Qantas maintains it spends more than $15 million in the Australian wine industry each year, across 250 wines from 150 local producers.
“We pride ourselves on developing a selection of wines that celebrate both cutting-edge and classic wine style, grape varieties and regions, “ says Alison Webster, Qantas’s customer experience executive manager.
“We are enormously proud of our in-flight wines. We are committed to offering the best Australian wines and educating our crew to become ‘Sommeliers In The Sky’ to enhance the customer’s dining experience.”
Qantas employs a wine panel led by Vanya Cullen (chief winemaker, Cullen Wines), Stephen Pannell (founder, SC Pannell wines) and Tom Carson (chief winemaker, Yabby Lake wines) to curate its in-flight offerings.
To cement the Qantas victory, the Oneworld airline alliance to which it belongs collected the award for the best alliance for wine.