It is important to note that while other countries may make port-style wines, only wines from a specially designated region of Porto Portugal are legally allowed to be called port wines.
Port wines are the oldest regulated and demarcated wine region in the world, first being demarcated in 1756. These fortified wines are produced about 60 miles east of the Portuguese town of Porto in the Upper Douro. The climate is hot and dry in the Upper Douro, and the vines are grown on steep terraces in arid soil. Traditionally, the wine would have been shipped down the Douro River to the town of Port for aging.
While over 100 grapes are allowed to be grown and vinified into port wine, five grapes—Touriga Nacional (perhaps the most famous), Touriga Francesca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cao—make up the large majority of red grapes planted in the Douro. (Note that white ports are made with white grapes, an exception to this generalization.) Port wines are always a blend of grape varieties and never a single variety.
The house of Sandeman is one of the oldest in Portugal, dating back to 1790. Sandeman was the first company to brand their casks, burning the letters GSC (George Sandeman & Co.) into the wood beginning in 1805. Sandeman Founders Reserve continues in this tradition with specially selected lots of wine aged for five years being chosen for this wine. At 20% alcohol by volume, this is a big, intense and lush wine, but the alcohol is in balance with the overall wine, with no hint of harshness or burn.
Sandeman Founders Reserve can be enjoyed in a number of ways, most notably served slightly below room temperature as a dessert wine, paired with a cheese course or perhaps a chocolate dessert. For an interesting change of pace, try this wine mixed with tonic water for a fun and different cocktail.
Overall, Sandeman Founders Reserve is a great example of a ruby port, filled with notes of red fruit, wood, leather, and dark chocolate. This is an excellent choice for a dessert wine and a wine that does not disappoint.
Disclosure: I received a sample of this product from Pernod Ricard for review. No other compensation was received from Pernod Ricard.