A Visit to Sandeman

Due to the re-construction of my new website followed by a major outage of our internet (thank you so much BT) I am rather behind at following up with some of the wines that I have tasted over the summer. In June 2016, over São João in Oporto and the EU Referendum in the UK, I visited Sogrape, Portugal’s largest wine producers. Sogrape own both Sandeman and Ferreira (we stayed in the Douro at Quinta do Porto) two shippers known for their remarkable tawnies as well as some fine vintage Ports. We tasted and drank plenty of both:

Sandeman,  Quinta do Seixo 2013 ***/****

Very deep opaque colour; still rather raw on the nose, needing time to develop and settle; big and ripe in style, quite opulent with ripe fruit and muscular tannins, big and powerful with a rather raw finish. Needs at least ten years to come round. 16.5    

Sandeman 2011 ***/****

Deep, opaque; closed and intense, big powerful extractive style, powerful ripe fruit backed by big, bold tannins. This is a massive wine, perhaps over powering in the context of a year like 2011. Still a youngster, this will need many years to soften up and develop the grace of a mature vintage Port. I fear I may not see the day (and I have never said that before). Undeniably impressive but a hard one to predict and mark: 16.5?      

Sandeman 2007 ***

Still very deep and opaque after 9 years; sullen and closed in on itself, not very attractive on the nose at this stage; big and ripe (very big for the vintage which was generally a rather cool, restrained year), strong tannins, leading to a big, rather lumpy finish though not showing much elegance as yet.  This still needs time to knit together.  It seems as though Sandeman flicked a switch in 2007 to deliberately make a much bigger more muscular style of vintage Port. Again I find this hard to mark.  16?    

Sandeman 2000 ***

Deep at the centre, ageing on the rim; open on the nose, stewed plums, seemingly a bit course but may be just the stage it is going through; sweet, rather raisiny-plummy fruit without the massive superstructure of the wines above. Minty on the finish, ripe and ready to drink though still with plenty of grip.  Better with another 3- 5 years in bottle. 15.5   

Sandeman 1977 ***

A wine drunk over dinner at Quinta do Porto: now fairly pale and pinkish in hue; fragrant, fully open with gentle, fully mature, classic vintage Port aromas; quite light on the palate, simple juicy summer fruit with  just a touch of tannin remaining. Alive. Lovely now but not a wine to keep for a great deal longer. Drink over the next five to ten years.  16     

 Sandeman Tawnies: 'the Don has a New Cape'

 Sandeman tawnies have been a well kept secret. Throughout corporate good times and bad, Sandeman have been producing some of the finest tawnies in the business: always elegant, always restrained and always recipents of gold and silver medals in wine competitions. The wines are now being repackaged in clear glass bottles, the 20, 30 and 40 Year Olds having glass Vinolok stoppers which Sandeman claim will keep the wines fresh for up to 6 to 8 weeks after opening. At Quinta do Seixo I tasted the entire range:

Sandeman Ten Year Old Tawny ****

Brick red at the centre with a distinct amber-tawny rim. Gentle, fresh with a touch of spirit lifting the nose. Soft, sweet, suave fruit on the palate with a hint of savoury, nutty complexity towards the finish. Wonderfully seductive. 17.5   

Sandeman Twenty Year Old Tawny *****

Pale tawny in hue; very refined on the nose with a gentle, ethereal character; a toouch sweeter than the ten year old with quince marmalade alongside a savoury nutty character on the palate, super-refined and quite delicate in style with a long lithe finish. Perfect poise. A worthy Gold Medal Winner in the 2016 Deacanter World Wine Awards. 19     

Sandeman Thirty Year Old Tawny ****

Pale amber-tawny; sings from the glass; crystalised fruit and orange marmalade, still very gentle in style but sweeter and richer in style, very refined and elegant on the finish 18     

Sandeman Forty Year Tawny. *****

Bright, pale amber-tawny; glacée fruit and elvas plums, richer but stopping short of unctuous with a touch of savoury, nutty complexity which dries the wine off on the finish. Beautifully poised for a wine of this age an stature. Another worthy Gold Medal Winner at the Decanter World Wine Awards this year.  19       






19 - 20 An outstanding wine (*****)

17 – 18 An excellent wine in its class, highly recommended (****)

15 - 16 A good wine, with much to recommend it (***)

13 - 14 An enjoyable but simple, straightforward wine (**)

10 – 12 A very ordinary wine without faults but with no great merit (*)

8 - 10 Disagreeable (no stars)

Below 8 Faulty