Browse the fortified wine section of any given wine store or supermarket and you are likely to see a bottle of Sandeman Sherry. You may even see a Port or Madeira from the same brand. Some people find fortified wines confusing enough as it is, so when you see Sandeman Sherry, Port or Madeira alongside each other on a store shelf it may cause even more confusing.
First things first: Sherry and Port are not the same. Sherry and Madeira are not the same. While seeing a Sandeman Sherry in one store and Sandeman Port in another may lead you to believe that these terms are interchangeable, that’s not the case. The simple truth is that Sandeman Sherry belongs to an international wine group, which has decided to market wines from the Sandeman brand across a number of different wine regions.
International wine groups
While many wineries are small, independently-owned businesses, quite a few are actually part of larger parent companies. Sandeman Sherry is a good example: The Sandeman brand belongs to Sogrape Vinhos, a family-owned Portuguese group that owns a number of big brands.
Let’s look at Sogrape Vinhos and a number of other large international wine companies, and see if you recognise any of their wines – we think you just might!
Founded in Portugal in 1942, Sogrape Vinhos is its country’s largest family-owned winery business, and it owns wineries and wine brands in both Portugal and Spain. Sandeman Sherry is one of its better known brands, alongside Mateus Rosé and a number of Port houses including Sandeman and Porto Ferreira.
Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is a leader not just in wine but in international luxury goods generally. The group was formed in 1987 and is based in Paris. It owns a number of luxurious wine estates throughout the world, including top estates in Champagne, Bordeaux and Toro. In addition to its wine estates, it also owns leading Cognac house Hennessy. Its key wine estates include:
- Moët & Chandon, the leading Champagne house known worldwide for its luxury Champagnes such as Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial, Moët & Chandon vintage Champagne and the iconic Dom Pérignon.
- Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, another major Champagne house. With a storied history as old as the region itself, it is best known for its Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label.
- Top Champagne marques Krug and Ruinart are the jewels in the crown when it comes to understated, consistent quality at the highest level. These are the favourites of the discerning Champagne drinker for sure.
- In Bordeaux, LVMH owns the singular, legendary Sauternes estate Château d’Yquem and St Emilion first growth Château Cheval Blanc. Without doubt, these are two of the world’s finest wine estates.
- Numanthia-Termes in Spain’s Toro region produces a range of serious heavy-hitters, from entry-level (relatively speaking, of course) Termes 2013, to the superb Numanthia 2010 and the super-premium Termanthia 2009.
Part of the Axa insurance group, Axa Millésimes has some serious vineyard interests in Portugal and Hungary, with Quinta do Noval and Domaine Disznókö and Hungary. Its home and stronghold is surely in France, though: Here, the group oversees a number of estates throughout Bordeaux and Burgundy.
You will probably be most familiar with its flagship estate, the Pauillac second growth Château Pichon-Longueville Baron (known more commonly as “Pichon Baron”). Pichon Baron 2003 is a super wine from a wholly underrated vintage. You may also have tried the sweet wines of Château Suduiraut, the group’s Sauternes estate. Château Suduiraut 2004 has a particularly attractive price for what is an excellent wine from another less spoken-about vintage.