Cabernet Franc; as we know it, or not…

A study in tasting, from our very own Isa Bal MS:

I often think and spend some time questioning the accepted norms when it comes to wine. My mind often asks: what is classic in terms of wine? 

Classic can be described as the accepted style of a wine coming from universally acknowledged regions and vineyards.

However, I feel the word “classic” is often used to exclude new styles and origins. We find a comfort zone in which we are hesitant to open ourselves to newer regions and grape varieties.

It has become an obstacle in front of some great wines outside of the accepted norms. Our wine education is often the source of this situation. 

While I adore wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux and many other well known regions I also question their superiority when it comes to their respective grape varieties.

There are 5-10 thousand Vitis Vinifera varieties in the world. To reduce the number of varieties to around ten in terms of commercial wine production can be called a road to vinous hell. One needs an open mind, a love of wine and a willingness to try any wine without a preconceived bias.

To test what I am talking about here, I have decided to conduct series of tastings at Trivet Tasting Club. First of these was held on Saturday 22nd July, looking at the Cabernet Franc variety.

Cabernet Franc is a grape varietal generally associated and considered to be at home in the Loire Valley. It is the major red varietal in the above mentioned region, but it has in the recent decades been giving us some fabulous wines outside of its historic home. It is also one of the parents of the much championed Cabernet Sauvignon.

Have the other regions of the world been catching up with Loire? 

During our event, Trivet Tasting Club members blind-tasted 16 samples, from some of the best known examples to what one can call obscure origins.

The twist in the tasting was that we had Tim Atkin MW tasting the same wines separately. As experts, how do our preferences differ from that of the end consumer? 

I am sure he will write about his impressions on the wines. But here are the top 6 wines, according to our Tasting Club members:

This is obviously a tiny study with just 24 club members participating, and it will need to be scrutinised more and perhaps repeated with larger groups to see a solid pattern.

I think Cabernet Franc is becoming a global variety and – with that – its traditional description of character will need to change.

It was a pleasure for us to serve the below selection in this experiment, with thanks for generous support from Matt Wilkin MS Stefan Neumann MS Liberty Wines Ltd Dimitri Mesnard MS ALLY Wines Christelle Guibert Tim Atkin Trivet Restaurant CHAMLIJA FAMILY ESTATE Château Kalpak

Our next event will be a journey from Tbilisi to Porto looking at indigenous varieties that has got some organoleptical resemblance which promises to put light on some much overlooked wines. If you have any questions about the Trivet Tasting Club please don’t hesitate to email 

The Inspiring Journey of Master Sommelier Isa Bal

The captivating tale of Isa Bal, a globally revered wine connoisseur hailing from Adana, Turkey, is a source of inspiration to many. Bal’s life journey, marked by a fervent interest in wine that was sparked during his university years, led to an illustrious career in the industry and culminated in the esteemed Master Sommelier title. This article aims to explore the life, education, career accomplishments, and current position of Bal at Trivet, a Michelin-starred restaurant located in London.

A Taste for Freshness: Early Life and Background In his early years in Turkey, Bal’s interaction with wine was limited. Although wild grape varieties were present in his homeland, his appreciation for the complexity and flavor of wine didn’t emerge until much later. However, summers spent at his grandfather’s house, surrounded by fresh produce, nurtured a taste for quality ingredients in Bal. These early experiences were instrumental in setting the stage for his future career, despite not having a direct impact on his interest in wine.

Academic Pursuits and the Path to Wine Mastery Isa Bal earned his Master Sommelier Diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers, while also undertaking a large portion of the diploma qualification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). He made the decision to leave WSET before completion, focusing instead on the Master Sommelier Diploma.

Throughout his education, Bal benefited greatly from seasoned mentors like Edoardo Amadi and the late Gerard Basset. Their influence played a pivotal role in molding his journey and honing his skills as a sommelier.

The Making of a Wine Expert Aiming to keep abreast with the rapidly evolving world of wine, Bal dedicated himself to learning and exploration. He tasted various wines, conversed with industry insiders, and traversed the globe, gaining an in-depth understanding of diverse wine regions, styles, and grape varieties. His stint at establishments like the Vineyard at Stock Cross, Glomaggiore in Covent Garden, and the Fat Duck served to enrich his knowledge and experience.

Curating the Unique Wine Experience at Trivet At Trivet, Bal is responsible for assembling a unique wine list that introduces lesser-known varieties to a discerning audience, alongside familiar classics from across the globe. This novel approach has garnered Trivet acclaim for its top-tier wine program.

The wine list at Trivet explores regions like Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, and Greece, allowing patrons an opportunity to discover intriguing and novel wines. Bal’s vision for promoting these lesser-known regions and their indigenous grape varieties is critical in shaping the future of the wine industry while offering customers a unique experience.

Changing Tides: The London Wine Scene London’s wine culture has significantly transformed since Bal embarked on his career. The city has witnessed a shift in preference from Claret to Burgundy for red wines and a burgeoning interest in natural and low-intervention wines.

London, with its advanced distribution and storage system, is a significant global wine market player. If a wine is produced somewhere in the world, it’s highly likely to be found in this bustling hub.

Support for Emerging Wine Regions Bal recognizes the potential in emerging wine regions like Georgia, Armenia, and Turkey. Their unique grape varieties and wine-making techniques warrant recognition and appreciation. Bal, in his capacity as a celebrated sommelier, believes that lending support to these regions and introducing their wines to a wider audience is paramount.

Climate Change and the Wine Industry The wine industry faces considerable challenges owing to climate change, which significantly impacts production and consumption patterns. As a result, winemakers must adapt and seek ways to minimize their carbon footprint and environmental impact. Bal emphasizes the need for the wine industry to address climate change proactively and adopt sustainable practices.

Staying Ahead: Adapting to Change Bal stays informed about the changing global wine landscape through various resources, including books, newsletters, online resources, and dialogues with peers. Alertness to new information and rigorous research enable him to seamlessly integrate new knowledge into his work at Trivet.

The Wine Club and Shop at Trivet The Trivet Wine Club offers enthusiasts an opportunity to join a community of fellow wine lovers, partake in tastings, lunches, and dinners, and avail exclusive benefits. Meanwhile, the Trivet wine shop provides a handpicked selection of wines for customers to enjoy at home.

Isa Bal’s trajectory from modest beginnings in Turkey to his current position at Trivet is testament to his dedication, expertise, and passion for the wine industry. He continues to shape London’s wine culture, ensuring he remains abreast of new developments and embracing emerging wine regions.