Sandeman has been around since 1790, when an ambitious Scotsman named George Sandeman decided to head for Iberia to get involved in the growing Port business. The Brits and American colonials and many others had a great thirst for sweet, fortified wines like Port, Sherry, and Madeira that could survive a long sea journey that would destroy more delicate standard wines. That's why you see so many well-known Port houses with less-than-Portuguese names like Graham, Niepoort, Dow, Taylor, etc.
Celebrating over 200 years as a Port producer, this year Sandeman issued their Founder's Reserve in a variety of decorative tins that showcase artwork from the 1920s, including the iconic painting of "The Don" that remains as a symbol of the company today. My sample tin features The Centaur by Jean d’Ylen from 1926. D'Ylen was a French commercial illustrator famous for his Art Deco posters for French beer companies and Shell Oil, as well as his multiple ads for Sandeman. (More examples can be found on the company website.) As much as I adore the history of commercial art and advertising, particularly when executed with great skill, I'm even more enchanted by the centaur luring a redhead with two bottles of Port that he keeps just out of reach. And he's bearing the weight of a human torso, horse body, and lusty lass all on a single hoof! I wonder if it's Chiron, but whoever it is seems to be having fun.
Sandeman Founder's Reserve Port
Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão
Aged 5 Years
$20, 20% abv.
This is a great entry-level Port that is bright red, fruity, and sweet. Black cherry flavors dominate with a slight bite that diminishes as you swirl the glass and the evening lingers on. It's not overly sweet or syrupy and works as a lovely accompaniment for white cheeses, creamy desserts, or even ice cream. And the tin makes it an excellent Christmas present that won't break the bank. Because I like the artwork, I'll be keeping the tin on the shelf long after the last drop has disappeared from the bottle.
Note: This wine was received as a sample.