To produce the Ruby Port Founder’s Reserve Sandeman the hand-picked grapes were destemmed and crushed before fermentation at controlled temperatures, with a vigorous maceration on the skins and frequent punch downs to extract tannin, a deep ruby colour and plenty of flavour from the grapes. The ferment was closely monitored to determine the ideal moment to halt the fermentation by fortifying with grape spirit, leaving some of the grapes’ natural sugars. The wines remained in the Douro until the spring following the harvest, when they were transported downstream to the Sandeman lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia for ageing in large oak casks. Throughout this time, the wines are regularly tasted and analysed by Luís and the oenology team. They prepare the final blend to retain Sandeman Founders Reserve’s characteristic style. The wines selected are usually between three and five years old, resulting in a Port with an average age of four years. The final blend is filtered and cold-stabilised prior to bottling.
The Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barrica and Tinto Cão grapes that make up the Sandeman Founder’s Reserve blend are sourced from vineyard sites across the Douro Valley – the largest mountainous vineyard area on earth. The vines are planted on steep terraces which slope down to the Douro river. Soils are composed predominantly of schist – a dense, slate-like metamorphic rock which fractures vertically, allowing the vine roots to delve deep to access water and nutrients to sustain them through the hot Douro summers when temperatures can often exceed 40ºC. Once they have reached optimum levels of ripeness, the grapes are carefully harvested by hand.
The logo created for the Sandeman family in 1928 by George Massiot Brown, the “Don”, is one of the most iconic images in the world of wine. The cape was modeled on the attire worn by university students in Porto, while the wide-brimmed hat was a nod to the family’s presence in Jerez. Today, the wines are good enough to be every bit as famous as the image of the Don. Since Sogrape bought Sandeman in 2002, the major improvements and investment that have taken place in the vineyards and the winemaking has seen the wines rise to the top of the tree in Port.