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Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Port Wine (2007)

Review: Sandeman 2007 Late Bottled Vintage Port Wine   87.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published June 16, 2013

The House of Sandeman traces its history all the way back to 1790 when George Sandeman, an Scotsman from Perth, started a wine business in London. He borrowed £300 (which was quite a sum of money back then), purchased a wine cellar, and began to sell Porto and Sherry from Tom’s Coffee House in London. He expanded his company by establishing an agency in Cadiz, Spain in 1795, and by 1811, he had purchased a wine cellar in V.N. Gaia, Portugal. Although the House went public in 1952, and is no longer a family owned Wine Bodega (House), in 1990 George Sandeman (the seventh generation George Sandeman) reunited the company with the Sandeman family by becoming the managing director. In June 2002, Sandeman became part of the Sogrape Group who also own the Port companies Ferreira and Offley.

Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Ports are produced from the grapes of a single year. The resulting wine is aged for about four years, and then bottled following a slight tuning when it is deemed mature. According to the Sandeman website, their LBV wine is ready to be consumed directly from the bottle, although it may contain some sediment if left unopened for a longer spell.

(Note: I was provided a sample bottle of Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Port Wine (2007) by Charton Hobbes, who are responsible for its importation here in Alberta.)

SAM_0753 Sandeman 2007 LBVIn the Bottle 4/5

I have complained in past reviews about the dreadful uniformity of the bottles and labels for Port Wine. Perhaps in some distant future a rouge Borg Ship from the Star Trek Universe travelled back in time and landed in Portugal and began an aborted attempt to completely assimilate the Port wine industry.

I say aborted because, with the Sandeman LBV Port, I see a welcome departure from the norm. This wine actually has a unique and attractive logo which adorns each label. The Sandeman  “Don” logo was produced by artist George Massiot Brown in 1928 and this illustration has been part of the marketing for Sandeman Wines ever since. It is in fact the very first logo ever produced for a wine. It is a pity that the rest of the bottle (and label) are so generically uniform in keeping with what seems to be an unwritten rule of Port Wine. It would have been wonderful if the Sandeman brand had broken completely away from the influence of the Borg, and actually added some vibrant colour to the label and presented the wine in a different style of bottle.

Note: A minor quibble I have with the label is that I was unable to identify with certainty whether the Sandeman LBV 2007 is filtered or unfiltered. Even the Sandeman website seems quite vague on this point, and my query on the company website was never answered. It was not until I removed the double foil sealing the cork on my sample bottle that I determined that the Port wine is probably unfiltered. (Rather than a straight sided cork with a  plastic cap, the bottle is sealed with a conventional expanding cork.)

In the Glass 21.5/25

There are many schools of thought regarding the proper amount of time to decant an unfiltered LBV Port Wine properly. My tendency is to use a rather experimental approach to search out the proper breathing time, as I have found different vintages and different brands seem to behave differently each time I open a bottle. Before I opened the 2007 Sandeman, I let it stand upright for four hours to allow any fines which might be in the bottle to settle, and then I poured it directly into my decanter through a folded piece of cheese cloth. (I noticed some fine sediment caught in the cheesecloth so my conclusion that the Sandeman was unfiltered prior to bottling seems to be correct.)

Once poured into the glass, the initial nose was very restrained with the breezes in the air above the glass appearing lightly sweet and fruity. There is a sort of wet gravel/mineral scent which lies under the fruit, and a floral note of lilac that lies beside it. I nosed and sipped very sparingly on my glass and discovered that it took about 20 minutes for the glass to begin to bring forward a fruit filled bouquet of Bing cherries and ripe red raspberries, although that mineral quality I noticed earlier clung resolutely to the breezes as well. Very faintly, I notice some nice plums and raisin meandering within the scents of the bursting red fruit.

As the glass continued to breathe the fresh red fruit continued to dominate, and in fact during my repeated returns to the bottle over several days the freshness of the wine did not dissipate.

In the Mouth 44/50

The Sandeman LBV Port wine was initially coy with its flavour. The first sips brought a light fruitiness underlain with tannins which tasted of grape and cherry skins. This strong initial indication of tannin indicates to me that the wine will need time to reveal its flavour, and as indicated above, it was a full twenty before the glass began to unveil fresh ripe fruit. Flavours of fresh dark cherries and a combination ripe raspberries and blackberries seemed to grow and grow as I let the glass sit. There was also a nice spicy acidity which kept the flavours vibrant.

I decided to leave the bottle uncorked for a while and was rewarded several hours later when I poured another glass. The tannins stayed firm and the spicy acidity remained but the flavours of fresh fruit now dominated the glass (much to my delight). I re-corked my bottle and returned to it each day over the next several days. The wine stayed fresh and tasty for about five days before the flavour began to diminish on the sixth day.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The palate is puckered slightly after the wine is swallowed as the acidity and the tannins retain a firm grip on the Port throughout the taste experience. Although dry fruit flavours and the taste of cherry skins linger upon the palate; it is the full fruity flavour of cherries and raspberries that continue to hold my attention in the finish.

Final Impression 4.5/5

This LBV wine required time to breathe in order to reach its pinnacle of flavour; but once that pinnacle was reached, the wine maintained that flavour so that it was enjoyed for several days instead of just one.The presence of firm tannins and fresh acidity leads me to believe this LBV wine will continue to mature in my cold room. I shall have to find another bottle.

If you are interested in some comparative reviews, here is a link to all of my Port Wine Reviews!


Note: My Wine Scores are computed in the same manner as my scores for distilled spirits. This means that my total score out of 100 is generally lower than what you would see in popular wine rating magazines. (Those magazines appear to have a system which scores almost all wines at 85 points or more.)

My system which is described below and you may (loosely) interpret my scores as follows:

0-25     A wine with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    A mediocre wine which will excite no one.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, still rather unexciting.
80-84    Enjoyment begins here.
85-89    Very good to excellent!
90-94    You may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this one yet…but I want to.

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