Meet the Mysterious Don at The House of Sandeman:
We’re on a port wine-tasting tour of The House of Sandeman. Our “Don” guide (in fact, a blonde woman dressed like Antonio Banderas in “Zorro”) meets us at the entrance. Even after claiming for years ‘reformed status’ as regards his time as an ad agency creative director, seeing that “Don” logo and being in The House of Sandeman still brings back nostalgic memories for Tony of advertising campaigns he worked on and the great brand logos.
George Massiot Brown’s mysterious symbol of the man in the black cape, wearing a wide-brimmed black hat and a glass of port wine in his hand is one of those prestigious logos. We now know that the famous symbol that he painted was based on the Portuguese student’s black cape and a Spanish Caballero hat. The logo has won world-wide acclaim and brought recognition for The House of Sandeman as the most recognised Porto port wine brand worldwide.
A Tour of The House of Sandeman
We walk through the cold, dark cellars with the rich smell of wood and port wine permeating the air. At strategic points, our Don guide passes on some history about Sandeman and informs us about how port is produced and the ageing process.
Porto’s port wine is a natural, rich and fortified port wine which is produced with grapes that’s exclusively grown in the Douro Valley, one of the first demarcated wine regions in the world.
Our tour of The House of Sandeman includes a video presentation about the company’s history, the vineyards in the Douro Valley and the port making process. After this, we get to the important part of the tour, which is the port wine tasting.
Port wine tasting at Sandeman is a very popular tourist activity and its large wine tasting hall is filled and rows and rows of bench tables and chairs. Don guide tells us a little about the different ports that Sandeman produces, from Ruby Port to Tawny Port and Vintage ports and the various presentation packs that are on sale in the shop.
Tasting the Port
We get to try two of their vintage ports which are wines from a single exceptional year, with remarkable colour and a concentrated nose. These port wines also have great ageing potential and continue to mature in the bottle. So, to test these qualities for ourselves, we swirl the port in our glass, look at the colour, take a whiff of the nose … and drink. I don’t know if there are many port connoisseurs amongst us, but looking at the faces, it seems that everyone’s enjoying the tasting. The only disappointment is not having the Roquefort cheese or dark chocolate to go with the port!
After the port wine tasting, you can visit the shop which is very well stocked up with all their port wine varieties, caviar, chocolates, port glasses and other souvenirs
The House of Sandeman is “Famous for Pleasure” and when in Oporto, port wine tasting at Sandeman’s is certainly one of the more pleasurable tourist activities.