SOM­ME­LIER OF THE YEAR Cait­lyn Rees

Fred's, Syd­ney

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - Restaurant awards -

It’s been a wild ride,” says Cait­lyn Rees. “But it’s been ex­hil­a­rat­ing.” It’s with this con­ta­gious en­thu­si­asm and con­fi­dence that Rees works the floor at Fred’s in Syd­ney, a place teem­ing with cus­tomers as ex­cited to drink Rees’s wine as they are to eat Danielle Al­varez’s Mediter­ranean-in­flected fare. The plan was for a small wine se­lec­tion. One list. Easy. Now Fred’s has three: a 10-pager of bot­tles, and two by-the-glass selections, which Rees wrote in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Merivale group mas­ter som­me­lier Franck Moreau. The lists are pro­gres­sive yet ap­proach­able. There are skin-con­tacts, pet-nats and lesser-known lo­cal la­bels, but you can also drop a hand­some penny on big names from Bur­gundy and Bordeaux, if you choose. And Rees is con­stantly up­dat­ing all three. While one of the lists is meant to be a daily ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion, the oth­ers aren’t. But, thanks to the wine-lov­ing guests at Fred’s, they’re con­stantly sell­ing out of wine. “We have the most amaz­ing guests who want to drink good wine all the time,” says Rees. “And with such a high vol­ume of peo­ple through the door, wines that nor­mally stay on the list for a long time are fly­ing out the door.” Her knowl­edge of the ever-chang­ing lists is im­pres­sive and she talks wine with charm and ease. It’s the story be­hind the wine – the peo­ple, the coun­try, the cli­mate – that Rees finds truly en­gag­ing, so pre­pare to be daz­zled as she takes you on a jour­ney from BK Wines in the Ade­laide Hills to areni noir, grown in Ar­me­nia in the foothills of Mount Ararat. This is Rees’s first head som­me­lier role, but she’s no stranger to pulling corks, hav­ing done so at a ros­ter of some of Syd­ney’s best wine-fo­cused es­tab­lish­ments, in­clud­ing The Wine Li­brary, Felix and Mo­mo­fuku Seiobo. The sim­ple take-home mes­sage here: when it comes to en­gag­ing ser­vice and sug­gest­ing the per­fect bot­tle, Cait­lyn Rees has you cov­ered. Fred’s, 380 Ox­ford St, Padding­ton, NSW, (02) 9240 3000

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