Uncorked: Isa Bal

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Isa Bal master sommelier at London restaurant Trivet

Related tags: Isa Bal, Sommelier, Wine, Uncorked, Chef

The recent recipient of Michelin’s Sommelier Award on his chronologically organised wine list and Burgundy's Domaine Henri Naudin Ferrand.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine…

It was at the Vineyard at Stockcross. The wine programme was led by Edoardo Amadi at the time. He got me really into it.

Tell us about your wine list at Trivet

When we were creating our wine list, we wanted to go outside of the safe, tried and tested way of compiling a list. So we decided to base our wine list on the historical chronology of wines and list the wines in that order. So you would find Georgia, Armenia and Turkey at the beginning of the list and so on… We also are very comfortable offering wines from different schools. Natural, conventional, all on the same list.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?

This may sound boring but I never had any wine related disasters – yet!

Name your top three restaurant wine lists (excluding your own!)

The Vineyard at Stockcross, La Ciau del Tornavento (in Piedmont) and Schwarzer Adler (in Austria).

Who do you most respect in the wine world? 

There are so many people that I have got huge respect for, so naming one over the others doesn’t feel right. But Jancis Robinson is a special case.

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve ever come across? 

For me, 1969 Chambertin from Armand Rousseau. A third of the wine was missing but what was left was incredible. I can almost still taste it.

What are the three most overused tasting notes?

Minerality, funky and soft.

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?

All of our wines are good value, to be honest.

What is your ultimate food and drink match?

I think our artichoke dish with a Junmai sake is very special.

Old World or New World?

Narrowly, Old World.

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?

Having your bottle put away and not getting topped up. I have no problem having my wine on my table.

Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why?

Domaine Henri Naudin Ferrand – wonderful wines that reflect the new Burgundy.

As a co-owner of Trivet, what question do you most get asked by customers?

We get asked mostly about the way we have listed our wines, and people are very interested in the historical aspect of the drink they love. 

Which wine producing region/country is currently underrated at the moment and why?

I think Portugal is still not where it should be. They offer an amazing array of styles and varieties that are unique to them. I would like to see them do better.

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why? 

If I had a choice, it would be a bottle of 1964 Coeval Blanc. I think it would make the passage easier.

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