Batu Akyol: Alright, let’s start with developments. How did your upbringing in Turkey influence your initial interest in wine?
Isa Bal: I’m not sure if there is any direct relationship of my upbringing to the interest in wine that I developed. I developed interest in wine much later when I was at uni. I started to drink some wine, but it was more for the effect than for the pleasure
Batu Akyol: Were there any specific wine traditions or local varieties in your hometown?
Isa Bal: Not really. Not really. Then there are some varieties that grow wild in the nation. Mm-hmm. , I have always liked to eat them. But that was about it. I think going back to the previous question maybe, I used to spend a lot of time at my grandfather’s when I was a kid on summer holidays and things like that.
Isa Bal: And the nature there was quite good, so I had the opportunity to try everything fresh, like fresh tomatoes, fresh peppers, whatever, fresh fruit. That might have contributed to my appreciation of taste. So that might be the one effect I think I have inherited.
Batu Akyol: Which part of Turkey are we talking about?
Isa Bal: Adana, yeah.
Batu Akyol: How did your family, did your growing interests, I think in the wine industry they didn’t witness it about your development, right?
Isa Bal: I mean, Because it’s largely done here in UK, my family knew what I was doing from the start. I never forget that when I won the best sommelier of Europe competition in 2008.
Isa Bal: Dad said he’s proud of me, well done, so that was, that was nice.
Batu Akyol: Did you get any formal wine education? Yes. Where, how? No, I, I had my… Diploma, Master Sommelier Diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers. And I’ve done upon the large part of the diploma qualification from WSAT.
Batu Akyol: But I quit that before finishing. I wanted to pursue more towards the Master Sommelier Diploma.
Batu Akyol: Were there any mentors or instructors who greatly impacted your learning journey?
Isa Bal: I think… I am grateful to Edoardo Amadi. He was the food and beverage manager sommelier at the vineyard at Stockcross, the first place I have started working with wine.
Isa Bal: So he’s the one who gave me my first break after nagging him for quite some time. And I learned a lot from him. And then the late… Gerard Basset was always a friend and an example, professional. I’ve learned quite a lot from him, even though I’ve never worked with him directly. And these two, I think, deserve the mention, but there are too many people to mention all of it.
Isa Bal: It’s, you know, you learn. You learn from people.
Batu Akyol: So the, how do you continue to expand your knowledge in the constantly evolving world of wine?
Isa Bal: It’s, everyone has their own way. I think for me, it was mainly I had a gap, obviously, knowledge gap, because I started when I was 27, so I had a lot of catching up to do.
Isa Bal: So a lot of my learnings has been via studying and then traveling. taste in and simply sometimes talking to people and grab what you can and you need to take all of that information digest it and turn it into knowledge that’s yours that you can use it takes time you know there is no quick fix to learning about wine it’s it’s a lifetime journey you never stop learning
Batu Akyol: i was working in different establishments helped you understand Your eyes, wine regions, and styles.
Isa Bal: Well, my first place, I was very lucky to have worked at the vineyard at Stock Cross. At the time, and I believe still, they have probably one of the largest wineries in Europe. And we had, at the, we had one thousand, over one thousand five hundred wines from California, over two thousand wines from the rest of the world.
Isa Bal: So. If there was any wine that I needed to know, it was there. And that gave me opportunity to learn about many different regions, styles, grape varieties, and also taste them. For example, Zinfandel from California. I could almost smell it from a mile away. I have tasted so many of them in that place.
Isa Bal: And I, I would say I’m pretty good with Italy, which is… It’s notoriously a difficult country for outsiders to actually grasp. I think it helps, because I speak some Italian, but also I worked with very good Italian wineries in my first place. And then I went to work at the Glomaggiore in Covent Garden.
Isa Bal: There I was charged to expand the already large list and sort of make a wineries that It’s classically minded and quite sort of in depth. And there I learned the commercial side of the profession. Learning about buying, pricing, recruiting people, training, and all of that was my responsibility and I didn’t have anyone to answer to other than the boss at the time.
Isa Bal: So I had to make many decisions by myself and stand by them. So that taught me to manage, basically. Then I went to work at the Fat Duck. Three star environment, quite very different to many restaurants. Three star, but at the same time very modern. And over there I have built a fantastic cellar. Over the years I have been there.
Isa Bal: I built probably one of the best sommelier team in the country. Yeah, that, that really sort of helped me to put what I learned in my previous works into practice and create something that I can call mine.
Batu Akyol: When you get in there, into the cellar of Fat Duck, so the when you’re out there for TRIVET , what was the difference between two cellars?
Batu Akyol: What was your effect? I, I think the formula is like a Disneyland . You know, there was no budget concerns or restrictions. You could buy whatever you wanted to and you could put it away to age and things like that. TRIVET is a new, young restaurant. And I had to be very creative and inventive to actually make a cellar.
Batu Akyol: Because, first of all, there are budget restrictions, there’s time restrictions to what you can do and things like that. So it’s a very different style. And the wineries at the back, although it had some of the beaten track wines it’s largely very classically focused. Whereas here, the champion regions that are not very well known by people.
Batu Akyol: And I think there is no other wineries like the one at Trivet in the sense that… You open the wine list and you see countries like Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Greece on the beginning of the wine list. But, you know what? It’s done very well for us, so…
Batu Akyol: Do you think being limitless in a cellar, is it a comfort or another let’s say stress for finding the best wine?
Isa Bal: I think it depends on the… Aim what you want to do. You know, you can have a perfectly good cellar with 50 wines on the wine list. You can even have a perfectly good cellar with 20 wines on the wine list. Those are the more difficult ones because you need to strike a balance of what you are offering, but you need to also have enough size that covers the food you are producing.
Isa Bal: There is with a limitless Budgets, you are free to do whatever you want. Mm-hmm. the difficulties, even though places have limitless budgets, they don’t have limitless place to put things on, but it’s a nice problem to have. I wouldn’t mind having that.
Batu Akyol: What were some challenges you faced during your career and how did you overcome them?
Isa Bal: To be honest, I’ve been very lucky. With my career, I’ve had, I’ve had a very sort of single minded focus on being the best I can be in what I’m doing. And I saw that, I saw that as a, as a sort of,
Isa Bal: I don’t like using the word passion, but I saw that as a challenge that I relished. For me, I have mapped out my career pretty much when I started, I, I said to myself in 2000 that by 2010, I’ll be the best familiar view. I achieved that in 2008. I said, I’ll be, I’ll be a master within 10 years. I achieve that.
Isa Bal: So I think by putting yourself target, To work to and to push yourself to. You are putting yourself on a path, and that’s what I recommend to people who start new because health targets, whatever it is, it may be that you want to become the best sommelier of to world. It may be that you want to learn everything about a certain region, put your targets, timelines, and stick to it and do what’s needed.
Isa Bal: You need to study, you need to travel, you need to taste, you need to research. If you do that, you won’t have a problem.
Batu Akyol: You’re traveling a lot for these researches?
Isa Bal: I do, yeah.
Batu Akyol: How do you choosing your routes? Like by the season or by the focus of the year?
Isa Bal: Depends. I think what you need to do is Sometimes when you are learning about a wine or wine region, when you go there, to the region, at a given time of the year, it actually gives you the, a wider understanding.
Isa Bal: You understand the place better, you understand the smells better, you understand the food of the region better. So your knowledge, you should have some prior knowledge beforehand. But when you go there, those little gaps will be filled by what you see, what you taste at the location. It’s, there is something about being in the location of production.
Isa Bal: For example, if you go to Douro Valley, you can read all you want about Douro Valley. Until you go there, you won’t understand it. So, fully. You’ll have some appreciation of it, but nothing really replaces being in the region
Batu Akyol: same as like the listening music live and from the, from the record or something.
Isa Bal: Yeah.
Batu Akyol: The different differences. So the, what was your the biggest exploration since couple of years, let’s say?
Isa Bal: Well, last I mean, let’s put this way. I’ve only started traveling, you know in, for about a year now. So I haven’t really done any, Big trip to wine region. I did go to Italy, to Chianti area, an area that I know relatively well, which was very nice to revisit, if you like. Before the travels has stopped, I have been to Georgia a couple of times, and it’s, it’s the oldest wine region in the world, but it’s kind of new to us, so it was a great discovery.
Isa Bal: And in Georgia, what I saw made me understand. Mm-hmm. is like, it’s, the wine seems to be in every corner of life there. Mm-hmm. , there isn’t a part of life that doesn’t have wine so steeped in history and tradition. It’s a wonderful place to visit. And when you do that, you understand those why it’s much better, that’s for sure.
Batu Akyol: And the lately, have you heard that? So the the Erzurum took the first degree then before the after the Georgian, they found some, some crumbles about making wine, et cetera, about the the old age stuff. Yeah, I, I haven’t actually read it. I did, I did receive But this is quite new, new.
Isa Bal: I did receive a long what you call, report about the origins of wine that puts also Israel in the picture. But I haven’t read the full report yet. It’s about 70 pages, so I need to really read it and digest it before I can say anything about it. But, you know, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it is a region we are talking about, not necessarily a single country.
Isa Bal: At the times we are talking… You know, seven, eight thousand years ago, there wasn’t any of these countries we are talking about today. So these are only reference points for people to understand that.
Batu Akyol: About your research on Anatolian, Armenian, and Georgian wines, what inspired you to explore wines from these regions in particular? Like, because of the history or because of the quality of the grapes or the wines?
Isa Bal: Well, the starting point was actually when I was, I’ve always showed interest and tasted those wines, but I never got into it as detailed. And when we were doing the wine list here, I just wanted to do something different.
Isa Bal: That, that no one has done before. I just wanted to do a wine list that is interesting, exciting, tells a story, and gives little bits of information to the customer. And that was my. So it took me quite some time to come up with the idea of the way the wine list is listed now, with the chronology of winemaking around the world.
Isa Bal: And when you do that, you are then naturally drawn towards those countries, because they are the beginning of the viticulture and winemaking. So when you do that, then you ought to really represent those countries very well on your list, and that was the beginning of it, if you like.
Batu Akyol: You’ve been using these these locations when you were in Fat Duck also, or you just started with Trivet?
Isa Bal: I did have Georgian wines, Turkish wines, Greek wines, but at the time there wasn’t much of an Armenian wines. So the only addition has been Armenian, really. Mm hmm.
Batu Akyol: So how do you think these wines compare to more well known wine regions, and what makes them unique?
Isa Bal: I think they have disadvantage several of them even though they have been around there and being produced for centuries, millenias, people don’t know them. So that not knowing them is probably a sometimes advantage for curious drinker. It also makes people hesitate in trying them because They are used to drinking their clarets.
Isa Bal: They are used to drinking their sunsets, whatever. So it takes a little bit of step towards the unknown, if you like. But many people, I find, they are open to try them. Especially if you have them by the glass before committing to a full bottle. They are quite sort of adventurous on that. And, and it’s been proven that people do like them and they do come back for them.
Isa Bal: So, at this end, the grape varieties that indigenous local grape varieties in those places, I believe it’s their strength. They don’t have to compete against the Chardonnays or the Merlos or Cabernets from the world. They offer something unique to the wine drinker. That’s a strength that they have to play with and there seems to be quite a lot of interest around the world.
Isa Bal: Towards those varieties at the moment. Which all of those countries actually has a massive advantage.
Batu Akyol: As far as I know the Chardonnay, the source is also from Israel I think. The grape, from the beginning of the grape.
Isa Bal: Well if you look at the… The parent grapes of the Chardonnay it’s more than likely to be somewhere in either Western Europe, i. e. France, or around Hungary. I think the hypothesis of Chardonnay being from Israel is not correct, yeah. .
Batu Akyol: Good to know that. So, are there any specific wines from these regions we’re talking about; Anatolian, Ermanian and Georgian, that would you like to highlight for the exceptional qualities?
Isa Bal: I think if you look at let’s begin with Georgia;
Isa Bal: georgia has a winemaking tradition that is probably as old as their, their winemaking history. Which they make their wines in, not all of them, but some of them still. They make them in clay amphoras that are called kvevrig. And they put the grapes in there and put it. under the ground to ferment. It’s a very old way of my winemaking and I, I find those wines made with this style, especially the whites, extremely interesting.
Isa Bal: What we refer to today as orange wine is mainly from this technique. And I think they are really unique and very different aroma and taste profile to non conventional wines. From Armenia we have got some varieties that are local to them, like the Arene Noir, Haktanak. These two grapes, I think they both have qualities that makes them definitely ones to look out and try.
Isa Bal: From Turkey, again, I think indigenous varieties are wonderful, like Öküzgözü, Boğazköy, they are brilliant varieties. Especially if they are blended together, they make, I think, some of the best blend around the world. And white varieties as well, like Narince, Emir, they are wonderful. But I, I like to also highlight Turkey as a country that is fantastic for Cabernet Franc.
Isa Bal: I believe it’s one of the best Cabernet Franc terroirs around the world. Which part of Turkey? There is, there is, there is trace generally, but also in Guney around Denizli, they make some very good Cabernet Frances.
Batu Akyol: I didn’t know that. Good to know again. You’re like an encyclopedia. So the the London’s wine culture, how has London’s wine culture evolved since you began your career in the industry?
Isa Bal: Well, when I began I think Claret was the drink of choice for many Londoners. For the red wines. And Burgundy was the drink of choice for whites. White wines. And we have now seen that Claret shifting towards more Burgundy. But what we have also seen that we have seen a huge explosion of wines made with minimal intervention. I love sulfites, love chemicals, etc. They have definitely become a mainstream now, and at first they were a rarity, but now they are part of the mainstream.
Isa Bal: I think that would, I would say that it’s alongside the, the love of Brits for claret fading, due to different reasons. And the emergence of the natural or low intervention wines are the two biggest changes.
Batu Akyol: So the what do you think sets London’s wine scene apart from other, the major cities?
Isa Bal: The UK, or Britain, has always been a major player in the wine markets around the world.
Isa Bal: As a buyer, but also as a seller. So they buy and sell not only in the UK, they also sell it into other countries. I think that’s, that’s the main difference. And also, the UK wine trade, by that I mean the distribution system of wines in the UK and storage and things like that unparalleled.
Isa Bal: It’s, it’s very sophisticated, there are quite a few companies that are going over a hundred years. And there’s a good sort of history and tradition of selling wine in this city and the country. So, it’s, there aren’t many cities like that. It’s, basically if there is a wine made somewhere around the world, you are more than likely to find it in London.
Batu Akyol: And in this ranking, number two would be, which city do you think?
Isa Bal: Europe wise, I think probably,
Batu Akyol: Globally.
Isa Bal: It’s a hard one because there is now Hong Kong in the game. They are quite big, although they are more big classics. And I think Germany, Berlin probably is another one. Scandinavian countries. It’s a good sort of sophisticated network, Tokyo.
Batu Akyol: Interesting. How do you envision the Trivet’s role in shaping and contributing to London’s wine culture in the future?
Isa Bal: I think we have, we have already been recognized as a restaurant with Very good wine program. I hate this word, but I’m gonna use it anyway. So wine program is, yeah, I, I need to find another word for it. The way we do wine, if you like. Approach or something. Yes, our approach to wine is that we, we have already highlighted those regions that nobody did. People come here, but we also have a fantastic list with the classics, like the Bourbons, the Easy Times, Bordeaux, German, etc.
Isa Bal: We are also known, I think now, that we have got a good team that works with us. And, unfortunate side of it, that everybody tries to poach from us. But it’s okay, we are sending our ambassadors when they are ready to move on, and, you know. Yeah. It, it, it further spreads the word for us.
Batu Akyol: About global wine industry developments, in your opinion, what have been some of the most significant developments or trends in the global wine industry in recent years?
Isa Bal: I think one of the biggest one of the biggest thing has been that china came into the fine wine market in You know, early 2000s, 2008, around that vintage, and they started buying massive amounts of Bordeaux. At that time, the Bordeaux kind of lost interest in the UK market, and then they focused there. They then now stopped buying Bordeaux. So, China is like everything else. They are a big player in the wine market. They have done the same with Australians. They were buying at some point massive amounts of Australian wines but last couple of the years they put a ban on Australian imports. So they, Australians now having to scurry to find new markets or reintroduce themselves to old markets like UK. It increases the volatility, it destabilizes the markets, so you have to be a lot more careful what you are doing, especially if you are in the wine for investment purposes.
Batu Akyol: So how has the climate change affected the wine industry, both in terms of wine production and consumption patterns?
Isa Bal: I mean, I think we cannot talk about climate change independent of its global effects. Not just wine, but for everything else. Like everything else first of all, I do not agree with the statements sometimes you hear from wine growers or wine growers saying, Oh, because the climate is getting warmer for us, we are making better wine.
Isa Bal: Yeah. It is temporary, you know, like Sometimes I hear it from people in the UK saying, Oh, we’ll be making very good, like, pinots and chardonnays in 50 years time. Well, if it goes the way it’s going, in 50 years time, all of those vineyards are most likely to be underwater. So where are we going to make the wine?
Isa Bal: So I think climate change, no doubt, is a huge problem. And winemakers need to tackle the problem whichever way they can. reducing their carbon footprint and things like that. And on that note actually, I seriously think they should re look in the European law they should re look to allow wine fine wine to be shipped in bulk and bottled in the destination to reduce the footprint or the impact of wine industry to the global world.
Isa Bal: But these are subjects that The humans will not agree on it. So it’s gonna probably carry on until it’s too late. I’m not very optimistic on that one.
Batu Akyol: So there’s rumors about that the Italians and French people are buying new lands in, in the the the middle area of the England for the, for the next the vineyards or something.
Isa Bal: Yeah, possibly, but
Isa Bal: I think… If they think they can run away from what’s coming, they’re either… Misinformed or silly, to say the least. So, I think instead of buying land in those places, look at what you are doing and try to sort that one out. That’s probably the way it should be.
Batu Akyol: So the are there any emerging wine regions or production methods that you think will play a significant role in the future of the industry? Maybe could be related with this climate change also.
Isa Bal: I think in terms of winemaking techniques, look, wine is made pretty much same way for thousands of years with some refinement. And… There is constant refinement on understanding the processes and things like that. No doubt that there are better wines being made more consistently, more often, in many different regions around the world, because we understand it better now.
Isa Bal: The challenges are… In one hand, we are developing all these techniques. On the other hand, the climate is sort of changing. You are getting unusually out of season rain or heat waves and things like that. These are all challenges that’s affecting the quality of the grapes you get. So I think Like every time, the good wine is made in the vineyard, not in the winery.
Isa Bal: So, those who work in their vineyard hardest, will still make good wines. Those who doesn’t, won’t. In terms of the regions that are emerging, I think, it’s definitely, like, emergence in countries, wines, where local varieties, are pushed, like Portugal, and you can look at Georgia, Greece, Turkey, Spain, to a certain extent. But Spain has been there for many years, but there are new areas in Spain that are making very good wines. So these are areas, but also with regards to the price increases of the more classical regions, like. Burgundy and things like that. People are increasingly looking for alternatives. And many people, restaurants who used to buy a lot of burgundy to put on their list are unable to do so because of the prices. And both customers and restaurants are looking for alternatives and I think there will be a shift from… What is limited production of Burgundy towards these lesser known regions and different tastes and flavors. I expect that to happen. Unless, people start to earn a lot more money than they do currently. Which is unlikely.
Batu Akyol: How do you see the wine industry adapting to the increasing global concerns about sustainability and environmental impact?
Isa Bal: There are many wineries. I think they are doing a lot for sustainability. Sustainability starts in the vineyard, in the winery, with like zero waste and things like that. I think wine industry is a lot more informed and knowledgeable about the subject that they know, say, 20 years ago. I think in another ten years they will be even more so.
Isa Bal: It’s not the worst industry in that regard, but it’s certainly not the best. I think there is also, in some of the regions, what I find it difficult to accept is that there is this monoculture. You go to certain wine regions, only thing you are going to see is wine. vineyards and there is nothing else.
Isa Bal: So just imagine for a minute the impact of that to the environment. You want all the sorts of different species, the birds and animals that would thrive in that environment, if it had proper natural habitat, is destroyed because they just want the linears. So I think I, I find in, Italy, this is done actually to a certain extent, not bad, because a space tends to have a large amount of landholding.
Isa Bal: Only certain percentage is planted with vine and the rest is forest, etc. There should be more of that, and the vineyards should be maybe managed with less cosmetics, but more that in mind. .
Batu Akyol: As a renowned sommelier, how do you stay informed about changes in the global wine industry and incorporate them into your work?
Isa Bal: Well, there is this both wonderful and evil thing called, called the internet. Okay. I think, I think it’s a, it’s a very important source of information. However, you need to really look at carefully what you are reading and what you are taking as a fact. There’s a lot of bullshit in there, so you need to really understand and tread carefully.
Isa Bal: But, no denying, it’s a great source of information. Nothing replaces the classic books. Yeah. You know, you need to always know that. And following newsletters and things like that. But also the conversation amongst the peers. You know, like you mentioned earlier about this research about the origins of wine and things like that.
Isa Bal: So that, I put it somewhere that I’m going to do something about it and read and find out. So constantly be, be alert to new information. That’s, I think, what it is. And sometimes, you know, people who come and eat here. Gives you information that, you know.
Batu Akyol: Are you using all kinds of information, whatever you get?
Isa Bal: Absolutely. You just need to, when you hear it, you should understand it’s something that I need to pay attention. And not, don’t leave it there. Go away and do your research. And be more informed. That is it.
Batu Akyol: Do you think the Turkey’s wines are enough the outside of the country to, I mean… To give what it’s worth in, in the world era now, when you compare with the other grapes and wines?
Batu Akyol: Yes and no. Because they don’t really have a lot of wine to sell. As far as I know, currently the production in Turkey doesn’t meet the demand in Turkey. Hmm. So the producers are in a wonderful position of operating in a… protected market where their wines are protected with heavy taxes against the imported wines.
Batu Akyol: So they sell what they make over there and it’s for them actually financially a better thing to do. Strategically, I’m not sure if that’s the best way to go forward. It has the potential to make a lot more wine but at the moment it is not that good. But with the local varieties and things like that, I think those wines deserve to be looked at and understood better.
Batu Akyol: Maybe by sommeliers more than supermarkets and things like that.
Batu Akyol: Because if you are a new country, which I think they are, even though there is a long history, your root should be going into the, Restaurants, wine bars first, they are like in the vineyards, there’s this row of wines and you have usually rose planted at the end of the row. The rose, if there’s a fungal disease in the vineyard, they catch it a lot before then the wines.
Batu Akyol: So to tell the winemaker of linear on what’s happening and they can then, you know, deal with it. If there is a new wine region appearing, if there is a new grape variety appearing, you will always see them in the restaurants and wine bars first. You won’t see them in supermarkets. If a wine has made it to supermarkets, it has already got some following and recognition.
Batu Akyol: So, like Gruner Veltliner from Austria, that’s exactly what happened. Now, you can go to supermarkets and guarantee there will be at least one in every supermarket.
Batu Akyol: So the in that case, what do you think about the the old wines? Old Yaban. They are, you know, researching and making wines from new grapes.
Isa Bal: I think that’s a great project. And I know both of the… Guys who started, initiated this project. They are very good friends. I think what they are doing is wonderful. And I think those wines target are definitely restaurants. I don’t see them working in supermarkets.
Isa Bal: Restaurants and wine bars and places where people go and drink wine.
Batu Akyol: All the time, everywhere, they’re using some keywords, like romantism or passion, which is, you are a little bit allergic to that word, as you gave reaction to that passion, especially. So do you think the wine business or being inside of the wine industry doesn’t need any, any passion to work for it?
Isa Bal: Look, this could be wine industry or anything else. Because I think if you are doing something, the aim should be you want to do the best of your ability and you want to be the best in that field that you can be against anybody. Call this passion, call this whatever but you need to have that drive.
Isa Bal: You need to have that will to do what’s needed. Which in my book is a lot of hard work. So If you are prepare to do it, then you’ll be fine. If you don’t, then you’ll just be one of the many.
Batu Akyol: But you are just describing the meaning of passion, actually, with these words.
Isa Bal: No, the reason I’m against passion is that Sometimes, like, let’s say you are looking for a,
Isa Bal: , you’re looking to employ somebody? Or we are looking for passionate individuals. It’s like, you know what, if I am passionate about something, it’s mine. It doesn’t interest you. Because they are almost using it as a token to abuse the situation. That’s why I’m against it. So my passion is private.
Isa Bal: It’s like your religion, if you have one. You don’t need to share it, yeah. I don’t have to show it to anyone. Okay.
Batu Akyol: That’s, that’s quite fair. Shall we make a 101 for the the visitors of the One Star, Michelin Star, TRIVET’s guests, let’s say, about the wine choosing, or drinking, or do you have any, any recommendation?
Batu Akyol: What can they do, what shall they ask, what they should be follow, or something like that. Do you have any, some, some, some basic stuff?
Isa Bal: I think it always helps if they tell us what kind of wine they like, you know. Bearing in mind that fruity does not mean the same thing in everybody’s understanding.
Isa Bal: It would be nice if they can tell us the wine they like, then we can take a lot from that. Also in a sort of dining out experience, price is always a sensitive issue. You don’t want to say that, you don’t want to mention that. But if you can indicate, at least by your hand on the list, something like this, then it also takes away the… awkward situation of someone choosing an expensive bottle of wine when you are not prepared to spend it. So these two things can make the sort of choosing of wine a lot easier. You might not care about whether it works with your food or not, then say it. You know, just say, I like this style of wine, I don’t really mind if the wine works with the fruit, that’s perfect, but if you let us know, then at least we won’t come with a suggestion that you won’t like.
Isa Bal: So, but also it’s fun, you know.
Batu Akyol: When they look into the menu and they, when they ask about, so they, they, they like crisp wine or whatever. They, they just they explain what kind of the wine they like. If they see. The similar grape sourced wines, but the different brands or regions.
Batu Akyol: And then the price varieties are quite changed, quite different, let’s say. And that they are always getting confused about the, the, the selecting the, the cheapest one or the highest one. They’re always looking for the, to the middle. I mean, for the regular customer, not regular, so the normal, let’s say middle knowledge level the wine drinkers, let’s say.
Batu Akyol: So in that moment, so the because of this reason while you’re making your menu, the wine menu, are you trying to be in the middle size about the price levels and the taste levels for the varieties?
Isa Bal: No, not really. I think there are certain wines, certain varieties, there is a certain price point for them. So I’m not really looking to list, let’s say, cheap Bordeaux. Or, or cheap Burgundy, because it doesn’t exist, you know. It’s, some people disagree, may disagree with it, but for me, Burgundy is a premier wine region, and the prices will be premier. So, if you want to drink Burgundy, nowadays in a restaurant, I think you should be prepared to spend anything 70 pounds and above, and that’s probably the norm.
Isa Bal: So there is no point for me to look for a wine from Burgundy that, that is gonna cost on the wine list at thirty, thirty five pounds because it’s not bad, you know, and so I try to have enough wines stay under fifty pounds on the list that people can choose from and, and I, I am, I am confident with our pricing, so it’s, it’s like there is a price point, pretty much for every budget that comes here, and there is a certain price point that I can sell wines, and I can go below that, and upper limit, I don’t know, in the future we might have more expensive wines added to the list, but at this moment, there is a range going from around.
Isa Bal: 30, 25, 30 to a couple of thousand pounds. And there are wines in between those. Plenty of them for people to choose. So I feel comfortable with the pricing.
Batu Akyol: What is the rarest wine of your cellar?
Isa Bal: Well, we have got a Barolo Riserva 1996 from a producer called Giacomo Conterno. It’s… It’s a very special wine, and we don’t really find them a lot.
Isa Bal: We do get some burgundies, like poached dury and things like that. But again, it’s given in miniscule quantities to us, and we put them on the list at a, let’s say, a very fair price compared to market. And our customers knows that we are fair on those, and they come and drink them. Until we get them again, they don’t come.
Batu Akyol: Are you drinking often wine? Just for yourself?
Isa Bal: I taste more than I drink. But I don’t think there is a day that I don’t actually taste something. I don’t drink that much. I try to drink less because…
Batu Akyol: Because of your job?
Isa Bal: It’s a professional hazard. You have to be careful.
Batu Akyol: then I shouldn’t ask that what wine is your favorite on these days? Do you, do you have that kind of the favorite days changing?
Isa Bal: It’s a difficult one to answer because I just, I just love wine in general. So it would be very hard for me to say this is my favorite, you know?
Batu Akyol: What do you think about the natural wines and the bio wines?
Isa Bal: I think there is, I think there are There are some fake natural wines, if you like. I done purely for marketing purposes, without the maker, without really truly not committing to that. And when you taste those, you actually see right through that wine. . That it is fake. Mm. And they can be, in my opinion, quite irritating. Mm. But if you have a good one, And well made. It can be a fantastic experience.
Isa Bal: I think it’s a subject that is quite contentious. I prefer to look at wine generally as good wine, not good wine. And that’s it. I don’t like to label them with all the other things. Because, I mean, we can discuss this for a very long time. And I don’t think we have the time for it. .
Batu Akyol: Do you have any in your cellar?
Isa Bal: Yeah. Yeah, we have got quite a bit.
Batu Akyol: From which areas?
Isa Bal: From pretty much everywhere in the region we list. There is some both sides of the coin, if you like. And in that regard, we are actually one of the very rare restaurants because often they tend to either list one or the other. They don’t work with both.
Isa Bal: So we work with both, and hence why we have all these symbols on our wine list to indicate people the style of the wine because, you know, if you are working with natural wines and conventional wines, and if you don’t highlight them, you can upset some of your customers. Because they order something, they don’t quite know what it is, and…
Isa Bal: That’s not what they expect, etc. But if you have those symbols, it creates that conversation and gives us the chance to communicate the style of the wine to them.
Batu Akyol: You have wine club in TRIVET. You started. So can you explain to us what you’re doing there?
Isa Bal: It’s a, it’s a tasting club, rather than wine club, because we we don’t want it just to be about wine. We could be tasting food one day, we could be tasting beer, we could be tasting chocolate, whatever. What people eat and drink. That’s the club for it. Wine is obviously an important part of it. So it’s it’s a very accessible club in that people, people have the chance to be part of things we do on sort of… Monthly basis, we will be holding tastings, we will be holding lunches, dinners, etc. And they also get some benefits for, like I said, for a reasonable price we ask for the club to be members. And it is to increase the awareness of some of the things we do, some of the drinks, some of the food we have, and communicate better, communicate with our customers.
Batu Akyol: So they can find all the information at the website. Yeah. Yeah. And then, so the my last question is about the and also you are making the wine cases on your shop. Yeah. For the your customers can, can buy for their the address and then they can, they can have that. So the, how you making together, I mean making those six boxes.
Isa Bal: , I think doing that our aim is to… give a sort of snapshot of what we have on our wine list here. By the way, people can buy pretty much any wine from Trivet at a sort of reduced price than the wine list. So that wine shop we have got is also a continuation of that. So we are not really competing with let’s say big wine shops or or supermarkets, but we have here and we want to sort of, if people want to experience part of our wine is in their home, that’s what it is there for.
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