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No Malbec and rule-breaking makes a song and dance at Wines of Argentina tasting

Published:  26 October, 2016

A trendy Hoxton studio played host to the first day of Barullo yesterday - a new trade and consumer concept from Wines of Argentina.

Entering by fire escape, visitors to the four-day event are ushered into a melting pot of old and new, with traditional wineries like Bodega Argento given equal billing to the wave of "new Argentina".

Walls and ceilings emblazoned with colourful signs, a self-serve bar and a "rule-breakers" section for renegade wines all paint a picture of a category which is trying to do something different.

Along with experimenting with new grapes - a group with some of Argentina's top producers put a blanket ban on Malbec for the occasion - organic, biodynamic and unfiltered wines, abound.

One producer who can lay claim to all three is Andrej Razumovky, whose first foray into winemaking was when he departed Austria ten years ago to set up his first winery in Argentina. 

Barullo 2016

After cultivating the land and setting up Alpamanta Estate, Razumovky is eager to show his second year of unfiltered, cloudy wines, which, "are easy to drink, easy on the palette, but are still wine".

Starting with a Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, he is looking to add a third wine to the collection next year.

For Razumovky, events such as Barullo are a chance to highlight a new era of modern Argentine winemaking.

"Argentina is making an effort to show its new wines, which are not over-extracted, jammy or high in alcohol.

"Ten years ago, Mendoza was very traditional. When I arrived in Argentina and I said I wanted to do biodynamic, everyone said I was crazy. But now lots of other wineries are moving that way."

Also moving towards the organic sector is Chakana, where three of its Nuna Estate wines are already organic, with its Ayni wines set to follow.

Having split from a joint tasting with Wines of Chile to go it alone this year, Barullo runs over four days to Friday, Ocotber 28 at Hoxton's JJ Studios.

Although exhibitors reported some slowdown in footfall during the first day, numbers are expected to pick up on its second trade tasting today and during the evening events, which aim to immerse consumers in food, music, wine and art in a shake-up of the traditional wine tasting format.

Fittingly, Barullo is a term used in Argentina to describe someone making a racket.

Following the theme of disruption is Argentine group Grupo Penaflor, which didn't have one Malbec in sight among its seven-winery strong portfolio - including top winery Trapiche.

Andrej Razumovky from Alpamanta Estate at Barullo 2016Andrej Razumovky from Alpamanta Estate at Barullo 2016

Instead, they are offering visitors a chance to try Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Italian grape Bonarda (aka Douce noir), which is often seen as an alternative to Malbec.

Grupo Penaflor is also placing emphasis on wines outside of the Mendoza region, which accounts for around 70% of all wine production in Argentina.

"We're showing oceanic wines, and also wineries like Trapiche, whose Costa y Pampa label is made near to Buenos Aires," Maria Marta Martinelli, Grupo Penaflor's marketing manager for Europe said.

She added: "Downstairs they have a bar where visitors can pour their own wine which is a good way for people to try grapes that they wouldn't normally try. It's a good way to show that Argentina isn't all about Malbec."