Our relationship with the City of Porto began in 2010 when Abi and our son took a Port wine – vinho do Porto – tour of the Douro Valley and it’s when they first met Andreia and were introduced to the Kopke Port Cellar.
Shortly after arriving in Porto, in the fall of 2017, we crossed the river to Vila Nova de Gaia, on our way to hopefully, find our friend, Andreia. It had been two years since our last visit to Porto and we were looking forward to saying hello again. As we were walking along the riverfront we literally passed right by Andreia without realizing it until the lightbulb went on right over Abi’s head. Seriously, I saw it. 🙂 We called out to her and as soon as she turned back she recognized us. Hello!
Don’t you love it when you haven’t seen someone for a couple of years but you can pick up right where you left off? Each time we visit Porto we seek out the company of Andreia and each time we thoroughly enjoy her company. And, each time she introduces us to something wonderful in the world of Port. Lucky us! And, as I’ve mentioned before, Abi can talk about Port Wine until my eyes begin to glaze over, but I’m learning and developing my palate by association – happily!
Each Time We Learn a Bit More
Andreia has been working for Sogevinus since 2007 and she is in charge of the Burmester Cellars, and the Kopke and Sogevinus shops. She’s had training with the oenologists of the house and has read a lot on wine, Port wine and on the wine-making process. Moreover, over time by sharing her knowledge and experiences, she has gleaned more information and in turn has become more knowledgeable. Andreia very wisely believes that Port wines are constantly developing and it is very important to keep updated and never to think you know it all, because one rarely does.
While living in Porto for three months we often crossed the river to Gaia and we were fortunate enough to spend time with Andreia and to visit the Burmester and Kopke Cellars. And, each time we visited Andreia we learned a bit more about Port wine and especially about Sogevinus, the parent company.
Sogevinus Fine Wines
One Road: Please share a brief history of the Sogevinus Fine Wines and which port brands are owned by the company?
Andreia: “Sogevinus was established in the 1990s. It owns an exclusive and highly individual portfolio of Port wine houses, with centuries of history between them: Kopke, Burmester, Cálem and Barros. We are leaders in Port wine in our own country, Portugal, and worldwide leaders in Colheitas, the noblest category of Tawny Port wine.
Sogevinus Group is also increasingly recognized for the quality of its DOC Douro wines, an area it has invested in since 2006 and that now represents 1.2 million bottles per year. The DOC Douro wines we produce – made with the same care and standards as our Port wines – are gaining international recognition with critics and wine press the world over. Sogevinus exports 60% of its total production, to more than 60 countries. Our cellars offer the best Portuguese welcome to our many friends and clients. The Cálem cellars, are the most visited tourist destination in Vila Nova de Gaia.”
Name the Brands
One Road: Please name the brands.
Andreia: “Sogevinus goes back 5 centuries of wine, with one brand per century: Kopke (1638), Burmester (1750), Cálem (1859) and Barros (1913).”
One Road: What is the company’s ideology about keeping the brands individuality?
Andreia: “We are intensely proud of our heritage. Sogevinus is committed to Port and DOC Douro aficionados, and believes that getting to know the beauty and particularity of the region where it is produced – the Douro River and its valley – and the essence of each brand, is essential to appreciate these unique and noble wines.”
One Road: Are there separate wine makers for each brand?
Andreia: “Sogevinus has a team led by two oenologists: Carlos Alves leads the Port wines oenology team. He has, amongst other things, the delicate responsibility of selecting and blending the fabulous old wines of the various Quintas for the latest Colheitas releases. Ricardo Macedo is in charge of the winemaking for Sogevinus’ increasingly successful portfolio of DOC Douro wines.”
Style of Port
One Road: What style of port wine does each brand produce?
Andreia: “Well, when talking about Kopke, the house has an extraordinary range of exceptional wines. The wines are recognized by some of the most influential wine critics and international press. Kopke is renowned for preserving exceptional harvests. It is the leading brand of Colheita Ports which, after careful aging, are then released to the market. Kopke is also the first brand to have in the portfolio 10, 20, 30 and 40 years old White Ports.
As far as Burmester, it has modern and sophisticated wines. It’s a contemporary, trendy brand, which suits an urban lifestyle. Its range includes wines of great quality with strong design and a unique packaging. For example, the Reserve Ruby Sotto Voce and the Reserve Tawny labelled Jockey Club.
When referring to Cálem, this is one of the most popular Port brands. It has a global presence and indisputable leadership in the domestic market. Its emblematic label “Velhotes” is part of the collective memory of Port wine drinkers in Portugal. It is one of the brand’s best sellers. Cálem provides the best entry into the category.
Lastly, regarding Barros, the brand expresses the Portuguese way of life, the best of Portugal – the experience, the culture – something unique and irresistible. Its wines are simple yet precise and deeply representative of the Douro region.”
That is a Lot of Wine!
Taking a tour of a Port wine cellar(s) – and of course tasting wine – is synonymous with spending time in Porto. So much so that although it’s a bit staggering to think of it, Andreia shared with us that the Sogevinus Group bottles 8.25 million bottles per year. Of those 8.25 million bottles, 1.2 million bottles of Douro DOC wines and 7.05 million bottles of Port wines. That is a lot of wine!
And, just who is drinking all of that wine? According to Andreia, Sogevinus exports to more than 60 countries. Its five main markets are the Netherlands, France, USA, United Kingdom and Denmark. Sogevinus cellars offer the best Portuguese welcome to their many friends and clients. The Cálem cellars, are the most visited tourist destination in Vila Nova de Gaia. More than 300,000 visitors per year visit the cellars. They are mainly from France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom.
We asked Andreia the same question we asked Jorge from Garrafeira do Carmo:
A Rise in Tourism
One Road: Have you seen a rise in tourism to Portugal and if yes, why do you think that is.
Andreia: “Yes, tourism is increasing. To my mind that happens because we have a unique city which has a story to tell in each corner. Porto is a romantic city, with a long historical background. And, with very nice people who are usually willing to please and to help. People from the city are quite proud of being part of it and of showing the city to others. You are always welcome no matter where you are from. We have a good climate, a rich gastronomy that attracts many tourists to the city. And, we have Port wine which is one of the best ambassadors of the city. Everyone knows that there is Port wine, but many do not know that there is such a variety of ports and that it can only be aged here.
We couldn’t agree more with Andreia’s sentiment. Porto, is all kinds of fabulous!
If You Go:
The Burmester, Cálem, Kopke and Sogevinus Shops are:
Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:oo p.m. from November to March
Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from April to October
Closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Avenida Diogo Leite nº 344
4400-111 Vila Nova de Gaia
Phone +351 223 746 660
Fax +351 223 746 699