GLOBAL SOMMELIER SERIES
WHAT DOES ISA DRINK ON HIS DAYS OFF?
MEET ISA BAL
MASTER SOMMELIER | THE FAT DUCK | TRIVET
Hailing from Turkey with more than 20 years in the industry, Isa Bal is recognised as one of the world’s leading sommeliers. Most notably, Isa held tenure as Group Head Sommelier for one of the world’s iconic restaurants – The Fat Duck, for over 12 years. In 2008, he was named Best Sommelier of Europe by the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI), then proceeded to become the first Turkish person to pass the Master Sommelier exam in 2009. Additionally, Isa was awarded the Dom Perignon Award of Excellence for Wine Service by the UK Academy of Wine in 2008.
In 2019, Isa launched Trivet, a restaurant in London in partnership with Jonny Lake, his long-time colleague and ex-Executive Chef of The Fat Duck Group. He also serves as a member of the Board of Court of Master Sommeliers.
These days, Isa’s constant exploration has given him a fascination with the historical route of wine, which started somewhere in Caucasia – North of Iran and North-East of modern day Turkey and dates back to 7000BC. His passion has led him to discover wines of lesser known regions and explore new flavours and stories that he shares with his guests.
“I found myself drinking quite a limited selection of wines from a limited selection of regions. I thought about how the wine world is truly global – and if there is a country producing wine I wanted to experience that.”
– Isa Bal on why he selected these bottles
IN THIS SELECTION
What — Grüner Veltliner
Where — Kamptal, Austria
When — 2018
“Jurtschitsch is a small producer that operates with biodynamic principles. Their Grüner Veltliner is a wonderful example of wines made with a hands-off approach. It offers quite an easy drinking style with subtlety and a balance of fresh and floral flavours. A distinct varietal that offers a clean example that is truly reflective of its origins.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Ripe green apples with a stony minerality and black pepper note
Grüner Veltliner is a native Austrian grape variety with a characteristic array of citrus characters, distinctive black pepper notes and high acidity, and is often likened to a dry Riesling when produced in an unoaked style. More than 75% of the world’s production of Grüner Veltliner still comes from Austria, where it favours warmer sites in order to develop full ripeness with lime zest, pepper and green apple flavours.
JIM BARRY ASSYRTIKO
What — Assyrtiko
Where — Clare Valley, Australia
When — 2017
“I’m truly impressed by the forward thinking mentality that the Barry family has shown with Assyrtiko. For a well established producer to show such innovation and dedication to go through the effort to bring in an entirely new variety to Australia is truly impressive. It’s a very good example of Assyrtiko, and is really quite unique being an example outside Santorini. I’ve been fortunate to try many Jim Barry wines over the years, and to see the Assyrtiko as another great addition to the range.”
Character & Tasting Notes — A one of a kind expression from Australia with lifted citrus blossom, Meyer lemon over a chalky texture.
Assyrtiko is an indigenous grape to the island of Santorini, Greece. In 2006, Peter Barry, current patriarch of the iconic Jim Barry winery of the Clare Valley, Australia, first tasted this grape in Santorini and was immediately awestruck. That fateful encounter began an arduous journey which eventually saw the first Assyrtiko vines being planted in 2012 in the Barry’s Lodge Hill Vineyard, with its inaugural release in 2016. Despite not being grown in the exact environmental conditions as Santorini, the Jim Barry rendition displays all the signature hallmarks of the variety with a distinct minerality, citrus-driven flavours and high acidity. Parallels are often drawn between Assyrtiko and Sauvignon Blanc in terms of flavours, with more restraint than many rich tropical fruit-led examples in the marketplace.
PITTNAUER MASH PITT
What — Skin-contact white blend (Sauv Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Chardonnay)
Where — Burgenland, Austria
When — 2017
“The recent rise of skin-contact wines has begun to yield some really interesting results. In a place such as Singapore that’s quite hot and humid, it can provide some great drinking akin to reds. It’s incredibly versatile with an array of foods as well; I often find myself bringing a bottle of skin-contact when heading out for Thai and Malay food here in London. Pittnauer is truly a great producer making very forward styles of wine that are delicious. They push the boundaries with their wines being unfiltered, but don’t worry; the floaties won’t hurt you.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Rich texture & ripe stone fruit characters expressed with a balanced intensity of skin-contact
Gerhard Pittnauer is a purist when it comes to winemaking, he believes in the practice of adding nothing where possible and removing even less for a transparent expression of the wine. Pittnauer has been certified biodynamic since 2009. Mash Pitt represents one of the orange wines produced by Pittnauer, with a blend of 42% Sauvignon Blanc, 37% Grüner Veltliner and 21% Chardonnay. It spends 20 days on skins before ageing old barrels for 8 months. No fining or filtration is applied to the wine, resulting in a cloudy appearance. Its texture and ripe apricot and peach characters are the highlights of this wine, making it a brilliant pairing with food.
MARCEL LAPIERRE MORGON
What — Gamay
Where — Beaujolais, France
When — 2018
“I think that as far as Beaujolais is concerned, Marcel Lapierre is one of the producers that has to be looked at. The wines are full of flavour, full of nuance. They’re pleasing; both to the mind and the palate. For me, they’re truly reflective of where they come from. For people who enjoy Gamay and the wines from Morgon, it’s pretty hard to go past Lapierre.“
Character & Tasting Notes — A Gamay built around its supple texture and delicate red fruit characters.
Marcel Lapierre follows a path very similar to that of the other iconic minimal-intervention and natural-leaning producers within Beaujolais, practicing élevage (the progression of wine between fermentation and bottling) in older barrels and bottling unfiltered. The domaine is certified organic and blessed with a suite of old vines. For Lapierre’s standard Morgon, the average vine age is 60 years old while some of his parcels are now over 100 years old. Marcel passed away in 2010 but his legacy is upheld by his children Mathieu and Camille, both of whom are certainly doing justice to what their father built over the years. The Lapierre style of supple and approachable wines continues on.
CLAUS PREISINGER ERDELUFTGRASUNDREBEN
What — Blaufränkisch
Where — Burgenland, Austria
When — 2016
“When looking at red varieties, Blaufränkisch is on an upwards trajectory in popularity, but is still largely unknown. It’s a truly interesting variety and reminds me of a combination of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Syrah all together. It’s seldom too heavy to work well with food. Preisinger has been a trailblazer for Blaufränkisch; they’re really a perfect discovery to the variety. The wine takes a little bit of time to show itself and benefits from a decant upon opening the bottle.
Character & Tasting Notes — Black plums and savoury herbs, with a mineral character underpinning the palate
Claus Preisinger has been determined to lead the way in terms of quality wines, with a focus upon Blaufränkisch in the Burgenland. The winery has been certified biodynamic since 2008. ErDELuftGRAsundreBEN is named after the German for the four elements that shape natural wine: Earth, Air, Weed and Vines. It is aged in Georgian amphora and bottled without filtration or added sulphur. Claus’ purist approach to production allows Blaufränkisch’s black plum, blackberry and savoury herb notes to shine forth.
CAVALLOTTO BARBERA D’ALBA
What — Barbera
Where — Piedmont, Italy
When — 2015
“Cavallotto is an extremely interesting producer. They’ve undergone a wonderful journey with a shift from conventional farming to something much more environmentally friendly & sustainable. Despite large holdings in one of the most prestigious vineyards within Barolo, they remain relatively unknown. I’m really drawn towards their Barbera. Often, Barbera can be a light quaffing wine, whereas here the family achieves greater depth whilst still presenting Barbera in its pure form. Delicate florals, notes of blackberry, softer tannins than Nebbiolo – it’s not its big brother Barolo but it certainly has its own charm.”
Character & Tasting Notes — Red stone fruits and berry characters with delicate florals
Established in 1948, the Cavallotto family have been blessed with a selection of some of the most highly regarded vines within Barolo. Majority of their holdings are Nebbiolo, the iconic grape of Piedmont, however they have a specific parcel of Barbera called Vigna del Cucolo from which they produce this cuvée. In general, Barbera is produced as a simple & easy drinking wine and the ‘poor cousin’ to Nebbiolo in the region. Conversely Cavallotto saw the potential of the grape from this site. The 2015 vintage spent 2 years aging in large Slovenian oak casks, and a further six months in bottle before its release. Cavallotto’s traditionalist approach to winemaking favours extended aging before drinking, with this Barbera just beginning to come into its drinking window now whereas most other Barberas from 2015 are rapidly fading away. Barbera offers a core of red stone fruits and delicate black fruits, with expressive floral characters.