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Tractorless vineyards 

Southern Highlands 

- we love the sheep -

We continued along the Hume Highway to Eling Forest winery and what was a cornucopia tasting with the Tractorless Vineyard boys, Jeff Aston and Mark Bourne.

We were intrigued by the biodynamic ethos of the Tractorless brand and the concept of sheep maintaining the vineyard! Organic and biodynamic wines are gaining ground in hipster London wine circles as the implied “health” aspect has major appeal, related as it is to good use of the land and viticulturists who really care about their vines. Also the quality is there as the wines often score highly in blind tastings.

Jeff and Mark said that the Tractorless vineyard has given them the chance to make the kind of unpretentious wines they prefer to drink and they were certainly passionate about the biodynamic process.

We sampled about 15-20 wines - some still in tank and barrel - and the tasting notes of the most interesting are below. The Tractorless 2013 Riesling and 2013 Pinot Gris were both rated 89/100 by James Halliday and we tasted the 2013 Pinot Gris which - ditto JH - had relatively complex gris fruit and flavoursome; and their 2014 Riesling which had lemon rind on the nose and a persistent racey palate.

Jeff had spent time in the Caucausus region, in Georgia - one of the ancient wine world countries heralded as the birthplace of wine around 6000 BC – where he developed his passion for the ancient winemaking practices with an homage to Kindzmaurauli in “8000 Vintages”.

Tractorless Riesling 2014: vibrant lemon rind character and honeysuckle fragrance on the nose and in the mouth together with crunchy apple acidity and minerality

Tractorless Pinot Gris 2013: pear and elderflower aromas combine with full flavoured ripe pear with guava oil and nutty savoury notes in the mouth

Tractorless Pinot Gris 2015: spiced apple pear and stone fruit notes with creamy apple tangy and nutmeg flavours

Tractorless Pinot Noir 2016: aromatic and sweet fruits, abundant dark cherry and poached plum aromas, with subtle clove and cinnamon spice complementing; in the mouth a bowl of plums and cherries, dense, vibrant balanced acidity, fine textured tannins with subtle spice on the finish

Tractorless 8000 Vintages: deep inky purple with crushed blackberry, ripe damson and spice aromas and in the mouth vivid berry fruit, buttery toast combined with deep rich residual sweetness providing a gentle and rounded texture

A perfect combination with Christmas flavours - rich fruit cake, cheeses or walnuts – or as we accompanied it – duck confit!

Tractorless The Lost Flock: 5 red grape varieties to guess at – shiraz, grenache, carignan, mataro, cinsault ? – rich dark aromas and flavours reminiscent of the red wines of the Rhone

Tractorless Nebbiolo 2015: on skins for 8 months single block – cherry brick red and on the nose red plums, leafy notes, fresh herbs on the palate with black and red fruits, grippy tannins

A lightening tasting and barrel-blasting tour of the winery with Jeff and Mark - without sight of a single sheep!

Bodegas Gratias


Gratias family

Ana, Iván, José and Silvia are a winemaking family who after many years working for other people decided to make their own wines…gratias - to express their concerns and lived enological experiences through the wines

The Gratias family believe in making ethical wine representing that the wine is cultivated, made and sold with respect, honesty, fair trade, happiness and illusion of all the people who work with them and those who will drink the wine

Gratias only work with local grape varieties, some of them nearly extinct such as tardana, pintaillo and bobal.  They want to share the goodness of these grapes to make wines with character.  They are recovering old vineyards to avoid them being uprooted and making them worthwhile again, so the viticulturists can still live from the vines