The best wines onboard your flight. 2012 Cellars in the Sky awardees.

Once again it is that time of the year to combine two passions, flying and wine.

The annual Business Traveller ‘Cellars in the Sky’ awards were presented for the year 2012. The awards have been running since 1985, recognising the best business and first class wines served by airlines worldwide. Over 75 carriers were contacted in the summer of 2012, with a total of 33 airlines entering.

In repeat of last year, Australian carrier Qantas, took home the greatest number of awards, winning the prizes for Best Overall Wine Cellar, Best First Class Sparkling (shared with Oman Air), Best Business Class Sparkling (shared with Singapore Airlines), and Best-Presented First Class Wine List. A surprise winner this year is the resurgent Malaysia Airlines which also picked up two prizes, for Best First Class Red and Best First Class Cellar.

Blind tastings took place in December 2012 at the Brigade Bar and Bistro, London, with four judges independently scoring the wines. The judges were:

  • Charles Metcalfe, co-chairman of the International Wine Challenge and food and wine matching guru;
  • Tim Atkin, Master of Wine and award-winning wine columnist;
  • Sam Harrop, Master of Wine and international winemaking consultant;
  • Peter McCombie, Master of Wine and top restaurant wine consultant.

The airlines that took part were: Aer Lingus, Air Astana, Air Canada, Air France, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Eva Air, Finnair, Garuda Indonesia, Iberia, Jetstar, KLM, Korean Air, LAN Airlines, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAM Airlines, TAP Portugal, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.

The list of awardees:


Best First Class Red

Malaysia Airlines – Schubert Marion’s Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2010, Wairarapa, Martinborough, New Zealand
Emirates – Château Clinet, 2001, Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Lufthansa – Château Canon La Gaffelière, 2007, Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France

Best First Class White

British Airways – Vincent Girardin Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru le Champ Gain, 2007, Burgundy, France
Emirates – August Kesseler Lorcher Schlossberg Alte Reben Riesling Spätlese, 2010, Rheingau, Germany
American Airlines – Henri Darnat Meursault Clos de Domaine, 2010, Burgundy, France

Best First Class Sparkling

(JOINT) Oman Air AND Qantas – Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, 2000, France
(JOINT) Emirates AND Malaysia Airlines – Champagne Dom Pérignon, 2003, France
Cathay Pacific – Champagne Amour de Deutz Brut, 2002, France

Best First Class Fortified and Sweet

All Nippon Airways – W and J Graham’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro, Portugal
(JOINT) Oman Air – Dr Loosen Riesling Beerenauslese, 2006, Mosel, Germany
AND Qantas – Seppeltsfield Paramount Collection Rare Muscat, NV, Rutherglen, Australia
Air France – Château Guiraud, 2006, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France

Best First Class Cellar

Malaysia Airlines

Best-Presented First Class Wine List

Cathay Pacific
Qatar Airways


Best Business Class Red

TAM Airlines – Château Bel-Air-Ouÿ, 2007, Jean-Luc Thunevin, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France
Singapore Airlines – Bodegas Roda Rioja Reserva DOCa, 2007, Spain
Cathay Pacific – Villa Maria Single Vineyard Southern Clays Pinot Noir, 2010, Wairau Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand

Best Business Class White

Oman Air – Sancerre “La Porte du Caillou”, 2010, Henri Bourgeois, Loire, France
Jetstar – Main Divide Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2011, New Zealand
(JOINT) Aer Lingus – Lawson’s Dry Hills Riesling, 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand
AND Emirates – Metis Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, Trinity Hills/Pascal Jolivet, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Best Business Class Sparkling

(JOINT) Qantas AND Singapore Airlines – Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, NV, France
Qatar Airways – Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée NV, France
(JOINT) Air France AND Cathay Pacific – Champagne Deutz Brut Classic, NV, France

Best Business Class Fortified and Sweet

KLM – The Stump Jump Sticky Chardonnay Riesling Semillon Pinot Gris, 2010, Adelaide Hills/McLaren Vale, Australia

Finnair – Niepoort Colheita, 1998, Douro, Portugal

Air New Zealand – Winter Solstice Glacier Wine, 2010, Reliance Wines, Marlborough, New Zealand

Best Business Class Cellar

Singapore Airlines
Aer Lingus

Best-Presented Business Class Wine List

Air New Zealand
LAN Airlines


Best Overall Wine Cellar

Singapore Airlines
Qatar Airways

Best Airline Alliance


About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

Check Also

In new strategy Etihad invests in Darwin Airlines, re-brands it Etihad Regional

by Devesh Agarwal Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, today announced …