The grapes to produce the Tawny Port 10 Year Old Sandeman were destemmed and gently crushed. Fermentation took place in granite lagares with vigorous treading to extract the ideal levels of colour, flavour and tannin before fortification. 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 historic Sandeman cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for oxidative ageing in oak barrels. The 10-Year-Old Tawny is a carefully crafted blend of wines between 9 to 12 years of age.
Grapes destined for the Aged Tawny Ports need to have great intensity of flavour in order to stand up to many years of ageing in barrel. The Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão and Touriga Nacional grapes which make it into the Sandeman 10-Year-Old Tawny are sourced from prime vineyard sites in the Cima Corgo sub-region of the Douro, including Sandeman’s spectacular Quinta do Seixo estate. A large proportion of fruit from old vines is used in the blend as these produce lower yields of grapes with very concentrated flavours. The soil in the Douro Valley is schist – a slate-like metamorphic rock that fractures vertically, allowing the vine roots to dig deep to access water and nutrients to sustain them through the hot Douro summers. The vines are planted on terraces supported by dry stone walls on the steep hillsides sloping down to the Douro river. Given the steep gradients and the inaccessibility for machinery, vineyard operations and harvesting are carried out 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.