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Antonini: ‘We don’t need barrels’

A leading wine consultant has hit out at the widespread reliance on oak barrels in high quality wine, calling on producers to look at alternatives to the Bordeaux “recipe”.

Showing off a range of wines from his partnership with Bodega Garzón in Uruguay, Alberto Antonini expressed a preference for cement tanks and large untoasted casks when it comes to making more upmarket wines. “Barrels are very negative,” he insisted. “We don’t need barrels – the world of wine is already full of different flavours.”

Having switched his approach at Garzón to these alternative vessels since 2014, Antonini maintained: “Wine doesn’t need oak, it need micro-oxygenation. You should not add anything to the wine in terms of flavour.”

On this basis, he explained, “I use more oak for my entry level wines and less for my premium wines,” remarking: “Oak is used to fix problems. If you have great grapes then you don’t need it.”

As for the ongoing central role played by oak barrels in modern winemaking, Antonini commented: “The problem is, you make a Cabernet and immediately adopt a Bordeaux recipe. I’ve never made wine in Bordeaux, but one day if I do then I won’t use barrels.”


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