To produce the Vintage Port “Vau” Sandeman, the grapes were destemmed and crushed. Fermentation took place in robotic lagares and stainless steel vats, with vigorous treading to extract the ideal levels of colour, flavour and tannin from the grape skins. 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 ageing in oak casks for two years.
Sandeman’s stunning 73-hectare Quinta do Vau estate sits on the south bank of the Douro river midway between the villages of Pinhão and Tua. The Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional that make up the sumptuous Vau Vintage blend are planted on steep hillsides sloping down to the river, and are planted in a combination of modern ‘patamar’ terraces and vertically orientated ‘vinha ao alto’ rows. The soil in the Douro Valley is made up of schist – a slate-like metamorphic rock. Schist fractures vertically, allowing the vine roots to delve deep to access water reserves and nutrients to sustain them through the hot Douro summers.
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.