Handpicked by IWSC

London restaurateur Isa Bal’s top northern hemisphere wines

Following on from the IWSC’s latest round of blind tastings, judge Isa Bal – Master Sommelier and the co-founder of Trivet in London – shares the 12 wines he most enjoyed from across the northern hemisphere

Words by Vahan Agulian and IWSC judges

Isa Bal standing in a vineyard in front of a mountain landscape.
Handpicked by IWSC

Master Sommelier Isa Bal, who was group head sommelier at The Fat Duck restaurant for more than 12 years, now heads up his own restaurant – Trivet, based in Bermondsey, London. While spanning many terroirs, Trivet’s wine list zooms in on the ‘birthplace of wine’, showcasing bottles from the likes of Armenia, Georgia and Turkey.

As a judge at the IWSC 2021 tastings, Bal went through an odyssey of adventures, trying wines from France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Turkey and Georgia under blind-tasting conditions. He sampled anything from grand cru Alsace and Terrasses du Larzac reds from the Languedoc to qvevri orange wine from Georgia – which wouldn’t look out of place on the list at Trivet.

Now, Bal has seen a list of the wines he tried and scored most highly. ‘One wine that really impressed me was the Concerto Lambrusco, which I admit, after discovering what it was, I went and bought a case to drink and share,’ says Bal.

iwsc bottle shot
Isa Bal holds up one of his top-scoring IWSC wines, a red wine from Georgia

Continuing in Italy, Bal was similarly enamoured with the Capannelle Chianti Classico Riserva 2016, commenting on its balance, and depth of flavour – with leather, tobacco and black cherries coming through to an almost endless finish, if his tasting notes are anything to go by.

Hailing from Istanbul in Turkey, Bal was also pleased to find a Turkish wine to add to his list: the Kavaklidere Saraplari, Prestige Boğazkere 2018 from Eastern Anatolia, which is made using the indigenous grape Boğazkere. Bal enjoyed its array of aromas – from bramble to tobacco – its fine-tuned tannins and its piercing acidity.

Bal was also intrigued by Château Tamagne Collection Madeira de Kuban Reserve 1991 from Tamanian region, Krasnodar, Russia – a fortifed wine showing notes of walnuts and marmalade, which was ‘predictable in terms of style, but very well made, and showing highly impressive complexity.’

Read on to see Isa Bal MS’s top 12 northern hemisphere wines from the IWSC 2021.