It’s a gamble, but I reckon Nicola Thornton, co-founder of Spanish Palate, the Spain based wine producer and négociant/distributor, is in the Tractor Ted generation! What leads me unequivocally to this conclusion – well, firstly she’s miles younger than me, and secondly Spanish Palate have named one of their smaller portfolios of wine, Mí Tractor Azul, My Blue Tractor. Classic TV influence!


Any readers who have student grandchildren (great grandchildren?!) studying Social Science and the like, who are stuck re their PhD Thesis? Well, I may have the answer here – pass it on!

Forget the generations so often referred to in the media these days (why?!) – you know, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Millennials, Generation Z (your grandchildren will be in one of the latter two). Popular belief is that we are defined by our generation category (I’m a Boomer, btw [this modern text abbreviation designed to make me look a ‘cool, Boomer!]), but, and here’s the PhD Thesis bit – I wonder if we are actually defined by the TV programmes we watched as children?

Who remembers ‘Watch With Mother’ and the ‘Flowerpot Men’ –  maturing(?) to ‘Blue Peter’, ‘My Favourite Martian’ and ‘Mr. Ed’? If you do, well you’re with me – Boomer through and through! However, if your go-to programme was ‘Tractor Ted’, well, you’re a lot younger – for a start, and likely to have a wholly different consumer profile.

It’s a gamble, but I reckon Nicola Thornton, co-founder of Spanish Palate, the Spain based wine producer and négociant/distributor, is in the Tractor Ted generation! What leads me unequivocally to this conclusion – well, firstly she’s miles younger than me, and secondly Spanish Palate have named one of their smaller portfolios of wine, Mí Tractor Azul, My Blue Tractor. Classic TV influence!

This of course, is all conjecture! So is my thought that Nicola and co are doing what so many other Spanish (and international) wine producers are doing – trying (and in this case, certainly succeeding) to engage with a younger generation of wine drinkers. These days youngsters who have reached the legal age to consume alcohol (that’s a strict 18 yrs here in Spain, with it being illegal to buy your 17 yrs old an alcoholic drink/share your wine in a restaurant, unlike in the UK), are able to enjoy such a wide diversity of drinks available to them. The result of this is that amongst the 18 – 25 yr olds wine consumption in recent years has been falling.

It’s a concern for producers, in fact a double whammy (this now old but still annoying phrase also identifies me firmly in the British Boomer!) – sales to this generation (Millennial/Gen Z, if you’re wondering!) have been decreasing, with the knock-on effect that it’s likely that when they reach middle age and older, they’ll buy less likely wine than those of us at that age now. It’s a worrying scenario that many, forward thinking wine producers are addressing right now. Spanish Palate ( is one such producer.

As yet there are but two Mí Tractor Azul wines in the portfolio (told you it was small!), but they certainly do what they set out to achieve and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were plans afoot to add to the range. The first I tasted was from Toro (you can see it here and listen to my thoughts about it).

It’s made, as you might expect, with the DO Toro favourite variety, Tinta de Toro, the local name for Tempranillo – the same variety, which has, with perhaps a century, and more, of growth here, developed some slightly different characteristics than Tempranillo from its original home, La Rioja.

Fruit First, and bags of it, is the mantra of this line of wines. However, that doesn’t mean grapes harvested from just young vines – Tractor Azul wines are made from vines that are a minimum of 40 years of age, grapes so mature that they are usually destined for Crianza and Reserva wines. Instead, the rich, gently pressed juice is fermented, and then bottled without any oak. You are therefore enjoying the purity of the intense fruit, with no other influence!

There are immediate black cherry notes on the nose, with some blackberry and a touch of its brambly undergrowth too. Although not aged in oak, the wine is easily rich enough to partner meaty dishes, though this isn’t at all necessary – enjoy it as a super fruit-charged vibrant wine, with your Generation Z grandchildren and their pals!

The other wine in the portfolio is Mí Tractor Azul Almansa. Readers may remember my recent article on the wines from Almansa ( – an impressive area of production, emerging from the shadows and this wine will help!

Grown for centuries in Almansa (and surrounding areas of production) Garnacha Tintorera (not to be confused, though it’s understandable, given the name, with Garnacha) is also known as Alicante Bouchet (again, confusing – we are talking Almansa here, not Alicante!). It’s quite a variety! One of the world’s very few grapes whose flesh is also coloured – in this case a pinky red, which, when macerated with the skins, gives very dark coloured reds, often of high alcohol.

Spontaneous fermentation using natural yeasts occurs in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, with bottling soon after – a total absence of oak. Therefore we enjoy primary fruit flavours and aromas of dark berries with some herbal notes too. It’s very fruit orientated, full, with fresh, lively acidity – a wine for the sofa, watching re-runs of your favourite children’s TV programmes, perhaps! Ah, nostalgia’s not what it used to be!

Colin Harkness Facebook; @colinonwine Twitter

Colin Harkness On Wine Youtube (please subscribe – Free, of course!)

Masterclass DO Almansa


In the Ayuntamiento, Town Hall, of Almansa there’s an impressive tiled mural depicting the battle that occurred near the town in 1707 during the Spanish War of Succession. The Spanish won, thereby reclaiming the East of Spain from Archduke Charles of Austria.

Though not at all so bloody, the good people of Almansa have another battle on their hands at the moment – convincing the wine world that their wines can rub shoulders with those of the other more famous areas of production in this part of the Spanish peninsular. Bordering to the south the DOs of Jumilla and Yecla, and to the north Manchuela it is also somewhat in the shadow of DOs Alicante, Bullas, Utiel Requena and Valencia. Impressive neighbours indeed, but if the tasting I went to recently is anything to go by (and it must be as it was organised by the Consejo Regulador DO Almansa) then I donp’t think they have too much to worry about.

My annual visit to Alicante for the Verema Wine Tasting for Sector Professionals, although very good in 2018 (my article archived here‘), was even better this year. The organisers had also included three masterclasses as an extra attraction. I couldn’t make the third but I was pleased to be given a place for the DO Almansa tasting and later, the DO Somontano one (watch this space!).

There were seven Almansa wines to taste – 6 were reds, which wasn’t surprising, given that the DO is very much a red wine area. What was unexpected, to me at least, as I haven’t tasted an Almansa white for many a year, was the quality of the 100% Verdejo dry white from Bodegas Piqueras.

It’s a wild ferment wine, meaning that the yeasts used were indigenous, found in fact in the vineyard on the skins of the grapes. This is a good sign as it means that the wine is more natural. It was fermented in French oak were it also spent a few months resting and gaining some depth. A lovely, fresh fruity wine, with a touch of banana skin on the nose and a good bright finish. I’d buy this wine, for sure.

Sorrasca 2013 is a red wine from Bodega Rodríguez de Vera, using Petit Verdot, that French variety that really comes into its own when grown here in sunny Spain. The vineyards are 1,000 meters above sea level, giving the vine respite from the really scorching heat of this art of the world, which in turn gives a brightness to the finished wine with necessary acidity too. Balanced with blackberry fruit, a little stemmy too, with liquorice on the finish, and after 20 minutes a faint touch of coffee on the nose. Nice wine.

La Cueva del Chamán 2018 is a Monastrell roble wine, in that it has had a some time in oak, and because it’s a young wine it has a darker colour than the older wine above, in fact a touch purple. Plums with some vanilla from the oak. The vines are 50 years old, accounting for the relative richness of the wine. It’s a food wine for sure, at 15·5 abv, you’d need something with it!

Unfortunately the next wine on the list was slightly corked, so I can’t comment on it as it was faulty. It happens!

Almansa majors in Garnacha Tintorera, that unusual variety, aka Alicante Bouchet, whose flesh, unlike almost all other black grape varieties, is also coloured. You can therefore expect some dark, intense almost opaque wines from this variety. La Batalla (you can guess why!) also has Merlot, Cab Sauv, Syrah and Petit Verdot in the blend, making for a lovely fruit compote, with a slightly medicinal nose too.

My favourite red was the 100% Garnacha Tintorera, Tintoralba Ecológico 2016, from Bodegas Tintoralba. It opens with a touch of coconut from the oak (French and American) in which the wine has aged for a year, moving into fruit driven realms of plums and damsons with a little undergrowth too. It’s a big wine, needing food also, but has an element of gracefulness too.

My second favourite of this encouraging flight of wines was the 1860 Selección from Bodegas Cano. Coming from 45 years old Garnacha Tintorera vines, growing at 1,000 metres above sea level, the wine has presence in the mouth, with big bold bramble fruit and plum flavours. I thought the 18 months in oak might have been a tad too long though, causing me to put it in silver medal position – for me at any rate.

So, I recommend seeking our DO Almansa wines. Enjoy!

Twitter @colinonwine Toutube Colin Harkness On Wine

Facebook Colin Harkness