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GEORGE SANDEMAN - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Roy Hersh     » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:30 am

As of Monday, April 5th and through the end of the week, our next Guest Corner Host will be George Sandeman. George wears many hats and his position as Board Member, Public Relations & Institutional Representation, for Sogrape Vinhos S.A, Portugal and as Chancellor of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto, provides FTLOP participants access to one of the most unique dignitaries in the entire Port Trade.

From George's wry sense of humor to his brilliant and direct approach to tough questions, you can be assured that this week will be extraordinarily educational and a fine read throughout. Feel free to begin placing your questions so that when George arrives on Monday, he will have some things to discuss with you. [cheers.gif]

Please join me in welcoming George Sandeman to :ftlop: and have a great time this week. :winepour:
Ambition driven by passion, rather than money, is as strong an elixir as is Port. http://www.fortheloveofport.com
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Andy Velebil     » Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:54 am

George,

Welcome to :ftlop: and I'm quite excited and very honored you've taken time out of your very busy schedule to join us and answer our questions.

I guess I'll start this out....Last June some friends and I had the honor of joining you for lunch and a tasting at Quinta do Porto. You let us try the 2007 Sandeman VP and I was quite blown away by how good it was. It was one of the best younger Sandeman VP's I've had. It's now among one of my favorite 1/2 dozen top VP's from 2007. Having had it twice since that time, with very similar positive results, I was wondering if there was any winemaking changes or changes in the vineyards that have occurred recently? I ask as it seemed darker, denser, more full-bodied, and balanced than other recent young Sandeman VP's.

2007 Sandeman VP tasting note here
Andy Velebil Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used. William Shakespeare http://www.fortheloveofport.com
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Erik Wiechers » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:51 am

Mr. Sandeman,

like Andy said, welcome to this board and thank you for the time answering all our questions.

My question is fairly simple, what year of Sandeman VP is your favorite and why ?

kind regards,

Erik Wiechers
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Derek T.     » Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:26 am

George,

I was with Andy and others when we had that wonderful visit to Quinta do Porto and tasted some great Sandeman vintages and the 70+ year old Sandeman Ruby last June and it is great to see you here on :ftlop:

As Roy has mentioned you now fullfil two very important roles for your company and the port trade as a whole but I would be interested to know what was your favourite job and most satisfying period and your own personal greatest achievement during your career in the trade?

Derek
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby David Spriggs     » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:12 am

Hello George,
Thank you for spending the time to be here on the FTLOP!

I personally have noticed quite an increase in quality of your Vintage Ports starting in 2003 (at least I really took notice in 2003). I'm curious what would you attribute that to? Have you changed what you are doing out in the vineyards? Were changes done in the winemaking process?
Thank you!
-Dave-
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Andy Velebil     » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:27 am

Hi George,

First, congratulations on being picked as the new Chancellor of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto. My second question is regarding the Confraria. Are there any plans to update the Confraria's website with more information regarding the Confraria itself and other Port related events within Portugal and also worldwide?
Andy Velebil Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used. William Shakespeare http://www.fortheloveofport.com
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby George Sandeman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:22 pm

Andy,
good to hear from you - I haven't forgotten our tasting of the 7o year old Sandeman Ruby Porto, truly extraordinary that a wine of that style, meant to be drunk right away had survived that long, let alone held up that well.
Regarding the 2007 Vintage Porto, the answer lies in Sandeman joining the Sogrape Vinhos stable, with the fabulous vineyards the company has in the Douro – particularly in the Cima Corgo region – for Port making. Well, that and the great winemaking by Luis Sottomayor, an artist in his own time! The 2003 was good, but the 2007 is great. It’s a pleasure to taste and think about how it will be in 30 years time.
All best
George
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby George Sandeman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:30 pm

Dear Mr. Erik Wiechers
So formal! Please call me George (everyone else does!)
I have no doubt that the Sandeman Vintage Port which stands out in my mind is the 1945. Specifically, the wine that my father laid down in the Factory House. I was able to serve when I was Treasurer there and it was still youthful and showing great potential – in 2001! Aside from this my “little pet” is the Vau Vintage series which we first made in 1997 (then 1999, 2000 and 2003). This was to give people who liked drinking young Vintage Port (like in the days when it was first being shipped!) and allow the classic wines (like 1945) to age so that someone could enjoy them in the future.
All best
George
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby George Sandeman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:38 pm

Dear Derek
The Vintage Ports we tasted were lots of fun, and the 70 year old Ruby Port was amazing!
I am enjoying the roles I have now pretty well, but I guess that working in New York for Chateau & Estate Wines Company under the legendary Ab Simon was a major highlight of my career. Experience has shown me that it is a three year cycle, with three of good and three waiting for things to get better! We are on a good cycle now, with Sogrape Vinhos making and offering some great wines, Portuguese wines as whole increasing their awareness and Douro wines in particular leading the way. Port will have to live through some stormy days, but our aim is quality and consistency and we will be around for a long time to come! Maybe if you ask me the question in three years time, the answer will be different!
All best
George
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby George Sandeman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:44 pm

Dear Dave,
In 2003 Sandeman had become part of the Sogrape Vinhos portfolio, and this family owned company took a different view to the quality approach of these very top wines (look at Barca Velha, made at Casa Ferreirinha as an example), so the grape sourcing was greatly improves with the company’s vineyards in the Cima Corgo region of the Douro, and of course added to this was the winemaking of Luis Sottomayor. It was a watershed improvement, and we are seeing the results with the recognition that the 2007 Sandeman is getting.
All best
George
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby George Sandeman » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:50 pm

Dear Andy
Thanks for your kind message of congratulations! The Confraria has been ably led by Vito Olazabal (the inimitable!) and now he has handed us the responsibility to take it forward.
Definitely there is work underway on the website and it is probable that in the “not too distant” we will make use of something like Facebook to improve the contacts between the Confrades......who knows one day soon we can be swapping photos with Fidel, the King of Spain or the Prince Consort of Denmark! Unfortunately Mr.Fujimori was voted out at the last Chapter.
All best
George
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Derek T.     » Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:32 pm

George,

Thanks for the replies. Now for a more difficult question to get you going...

You mention in some of the above responses that Sandeman vintages have improved as a result of the ownership of Sogrape. I can see where you are coming from with that but there was a time when Sandeman, along with Cockburn, stood head and shoulders above all else - anyone from Taylor or Graham reading this please feel free to prove me wrong :wink:

What do you think were the reasons why Sandeman fell off the perch of being in the very top flight of vintage port producers? To put that in context, I don't believe Sandeman have ever been anything other than good, but there was a step back before the last couple of vintages where the greatness seems to be returning. What happend in the intervening years?

Derek
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Roy Hersh     » Mon Apr 05, 2010 3:42 pm

George,

As you may or may not know, the specific Port which took me down this very exciting Port path 27 years ago, was while working in a fine dining establishment in NYC, we had bottle after bottle of the 1963 Sandeman Vintage Port in a very early model, Cruvinet system for over a year. Whenever the sommelier would open a new bottle and decant it through cheese cloth, he'd call me into the bar and he'd rachet the cheesecloth, squeezing it from above my head and into my mouth and that is how I first learned to love Port wine. I've had that specific Port 20-30x over the years and it was the bottle I opened for my father's 70th birthday party, along with his birthyear VP too. The last bottle I tried of the 1963 was two years ago in London, at a tasting with Derek, Andy and several others who post here ... and it was the best showing of any Sandeman 1963 I've had in over a decade, just a superb bottle.

It is great to have you join :ftlop: and it brings back my memory of our first meeting, here in Seattle circa 1997 or so. I distinctly remember the 1955 Sandeman that day along with others, but particularly the 1955 as it was simply beautiful and showing quite young. Other fond moments in reminiscence, was bringing our first (and small) tour group to visit you in 2005 and sharing bottles of the 1935 Sandeman which I brought from home for that evening's dessert. It was a pleasure to meet Mrs. Sandeman that evening too. But I will never forget shaking Vito and your hand in June 2003 at the Palacio da Bolsa upon enthronement in the Confraria. I am very much looking forward to seeing you again in about 5 weeks time and having a nice reunion.

Like you, I am a BIG fan of the 1945 Sandeman and have only had it on four occasions, but always love it. Here is a note from the most recent bottle which I brought to share with a dozen Port lovers in San Francisico a half decade ago:

1945 Sandeman Vintage Port
Rich, dense, with youthfulness that belies the true age of this fine VP. Due to the preserved ruby and a rim which showed little development, most guesses at the table were in the mid-1980 range and only one person thought "1970" out loud. Offering a great nose of rose petals, spicy cinnamon and licorice. This Port provided palate pleasing plump red berry fruit and sweet grenadine flavors that were quite appealing, with concentrated flavors that improved in the glass. Overall, a skillfully balanced VP providing a smooth, velvety finish with candied nut nuances that kept on coming. As good a showing as any '45 Sandeman I've experienced. Drink now or anytime during the next decade. A great wine to toast a 60th birthday! 94 Points

I am looking forward to reading many fine questions and responses this week and most of all, I hope you have fun here! [notworthy.gif]
Ambition driven by passion, rather than money, is as strong an elixir as is Port. http://www.fortheloveofport.com
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Andy Velebil     » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:18 pm

George,

Thanks for the information and glad to hear Mr. Fujimori isn't on the list anymore :lol: And glad to hear about the future Facebook-type plans... I can't wait!

Since you mentioned the Vau Vintage I opened a 1/2 bottle of the 1997 this evening, as it's been almost three years since I've last had it (current tasting note HERE ). I'm curious as to what brought about the decision to make this earlier drinking VP, and without divulging any trade secrets, how did you and your team go about making an earlier drinking VP? And is there still plans to continue with it, as you mentioned the 2003 was the last vintage of it?

I was also amazed that a 70 year old "3-star" Ruby Port could hold up so well. But the 1958 you generously shared with us was no slough either, especially since it's generally considered a very poor year overall in the Douro. I was also amazed at how well this was holding up and the explosive finish really captured my attention. It far exceeded my expectations since I've only heard/read mostly negative things about this vintage. Do you have any harvest and/or production notes from this vintage you could share?
Andy Velebil Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used. William Shakespeare http://www.fortheloveofport.com
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Glenn E.     » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:45 pm

George,

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a tasting of your Ports from 1960, 1963, 1966, 1970, and 1977. It was a great evening and I thought showed an interesting difference in style. The three Ports from the '60s showed much drier than the two Ports from the '70s. I suppose this could have been just an interesting side effect of the aging process or just a difference in how the bottles were stored, but since you're here visiting FTLOP I thought I would ask if there might be some other reason for the difference?
Glenn Elliott
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Ronald Wortel » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:06 am

Dear George,

Thank you so much for participating here, it is greatly appreciated!

Although I like Sandeman vintage ports very much (I still have very fond memories of the beautiful 1955), my question is about one of the other houses in the Sogrape stable. In fact, it isn't even about port wine. I am a great fan of the Casa Ferreirinha wines, and I am under the impression that they do not get the attention they deserve. Sure, Barca Velha is unanimously seen as the landmark of Douro winemaking, but other wines in the portfolio, such as the wonderful Quinta da Leda seem to be flying under the radar a bit. There is a lot of attention for the 'new' Douro producers such as Crasto and Niepoort, but less so for the producer that practically invented it! Is it a conscious choice to keep a low key profile for the Casa Ferreirinha wines or can we expect some marketing fireworks with these wines in the future?

I drank the Casa Ferreirinha Douro Colheita 1998 recently and loved it.

Many thanks,
Ronald
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Al B.     » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:01 am

George,

You were the most wonderful host when we visited the Douro last summer and had the opportunity to enjoy lunch at the beautiful Quinta do Porto. Is the empty Ruby bottle on display in Quinta do Seixo?

My serious question is about Seixo. As far as I know, this is the first tourist destination Quinta in the Douro. It is a marvellous museum and a fantastic piece of architecture - but how many people visit each year? Is the Quinta generating the number of visitors that was anticipated by what must have been a substantial investment?

Alex
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Andy Velebil     » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:11 am

George,

A controversial subject for some producers is the gaining role of Douro DOC wines and their possible affect on Port production. While some say that it will only hurt the Port trade and the quality of Port in the long run, many other producers have taken the opposite stance that the two can co-exist together and both succeed. What is your opinion about the gaining popularity of Douro wines and their effect on the quality of Port production, both in the short term and long term?

The other part of this question is, do you see Douro wines as a way to eventually attract more people to buy and drink Port? Or do the two seem to be separate from each other, in terms of what people are buying? By that I mean are people who generally drink only dry wines buying more Port as a result of their Douro wine experiences? Or is it still too early to tell.
Andy Velebil Good wine is a good familiar creature if it be well used. William Shakespeare http://www.fortheloveofport.com
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby Eric Ifune     » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:32 am

George,
Thank you for participating on the forum. [cheers.gif]
I have greatly enjoyed Sandeman Ports for awhile. The first Port I ever tried was Sandeman's Ruby and the first vintage Sandeman 1970 both with my father. I also have enjoyed Sandeman Sherries and still have several bottles of the Royal Corrigedor and VVO Oloroso and VO Amoroso. Are the Port and Sherry companies still related in any way? Or are they now completely seperate?
Thank you again.
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Re: George Sandeman - April's Forum Guest Corner Host

Postby George Sandeman » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:14 am

Dear All,
Sorry not to have responded to any of your messages - which I will start doing now - but when I was arriving home last night I tried balancing a case of Casa Ferreirinha ESTEVA (my house red) and three magnums of Casa Ferreinha VINHA GRANDE Magnums (for the upcoming weekend) with my computer.
The result was that the computer dropped on the garage floor and busted the on/off switch. Afetr dinner and a moderate dose of ESTEVA, I managed to push a skewer into the opening and switch it on, but when I moved it, it went off.
So I couldn't get online until this afternoon - thanks to the "IT guy" who fixed it temporarily. Hopefully tomorrow some estra parts from Dell will show up and we will be back to normal - if you can call pouning on this small keyboard normal.
Anyway, I will get on with the replies to your queries...............
all best
George
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