Raging Bulls

The Torres family of Spain have a long history in wine production, a central thread of which is the Sangre de Toro, or Bull’s Blood, red wine. An ultra-reliable pizza and burger bashing red, it was first produced in 1954 and is just as popular today. I was intrigued when a sample of the latest vintage landed on my desk just a few days after an Australian wine called Running with Bulls, which appeared to occupy similar ground.

I have no idea whether the Torres wine was a model for the Hill-Smith family’s Running with Bulls, but there are some real similarities in the tasting profile of the wines, yet some big difference too. Both are 2019 vintage in screwcapped bottles, both are pitched in the same price ballpark, and both are in major supermarket chains. The main difference is that while the Australian wine is made from Tempranillo, Torres sticks with Grenache and Carignan. The Australian wine also sees time in oak, unlike the Sangre de Toro.

I thought it would be fun to taste them side by side and compare:

The Wines

(2021) The original and classic Spanish red, in production since the 1950s and still with a small plastic bull attached (though these days it's an eco-friendly plastic). It's a blend of mostly Grenache with Carignan. A little darker in colour than Running with Bulls, there's a plum jam note on the nose, perhaps also a little darker in character, a little leather baked in there too. Equally sweet fruited on the palate, the style is remarkably similar really with copious ripe fruits, creamy background tannins and soft acidity for crowd-pleasing appeal.
(2021) Barrossa-grown Tempranillo is fermented with wild yeasts and aged in oak for this red wine from the Hill-Smith family, who own Yalumba and Jansz among other brands. Though it weighs in with 14% alcohol, the colour is medium to pale, suggesting a lighter touch on the winemaking, and the nose has cherry cola aromas, a touch of wild strawberry and spice. In the mouth the fruit is super sweet, a creamy fruit coulis style, with barely perceptible tannins and ripe, generous acidity barely ruffling the flow. Easy-drinking with a captial Easy.

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