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Bodega Profile – Cortes de Cima – Alentejo

Cortes de Cima

Last Tuesday, during a very hectic and busy day tasting wines, we had scheduled a lunch with Cortes de Cima, a winery located in the Alentejo. And typically, when you schedule a lunch like this, you are met with an export manager who is so professional that each crease and fold is perfectly starched and ironed without a wrinkle to be seen. Trust me, I’ve looked. But today was different. What stood before us shaking our hand was one of the winemaker’s of Cortes de Cima, António Cláudio. António is a large man, standing 6 feet tall with broad shoulders, curly black hair and a sweet boyish smile. He packed us in his little blue car and rushed us off to Solar dos Presuntos, a fabulous seafood restaurant complete with air conditioning that we desperately called for after two days of 40 degree heat. Relaxed, while feeling our body core come back to a normal temperature, we leisurely listened to António’s experience of the winery, his journey to being a winemaker and his overall impression of his wines – which of course, were his pride and joy.

Cortes de Cima began in 1988 after Hans Kristian and Carrie Jorgensen traveled the world by boat in search of a home for their winery. Although fond of California, they eventually found themselves in the southern Alentejo region finding both the culture, the people and the land ideal for their project. With a little elbow grease, they renovated the house, installed both a dam and irrigation to help with the desert like conditions of the region, and planted 50 ha of Aragonez (Tempranillo) vines along with Trincadeira, Periquita and Syrah. Since then, however, they have decided to change Periquita for Touriga Nacional, as a result of Periquita’s ability to thrive more successfully in cooler coastal climates just west of their property.

Interestingly, when they first arrived in 1988, the area of Vidigueira was generally considered a white grape growing area as a result of their higher yield and ability to be sold to the local Co-op for a decent price. However, Han’s felt the warm climate was more appropriately suited to red grapes, whereby changing the vineyard from white to red varietals.

Another intriguing little piece of trivia is that Hans hired the international wine consultant, Dr Richard Smart, the Aussie “Flying Vine Doctor’, and author of the book ‘Sunlight into Wine’ to aid him on the estate. Dr Smart has not only helped design the Cortes de Cima vineyard, but has also aided the Jorgensen’s in creating the first ever, ‘Smart Dyson’ system, in Portugal that trains the canes to grow both up and down the trellis to incur more sunlight, deeper color and more aroma.

The Jorgensens initially sold their grapes to a local cooperative in 1995, and finally released their first “recognized” wine in 1996. Now, they have been internationally recognized not only for their wines, but also for their olive oils. Having tried it over lunch, I can honestly say that I’d buy a case on the spot. Made from 100% Cobrançosa, a native grape from the Alentejo, it has a wonderful snap pea and grass aroma which immediately takes me back to my grade school when I’d hear the big roar of the lawnmower and the sweet smell of freshly cut grass announcing the final days before summer vacation.

The wines themselves are all very bold, intense, flavorful wines. We tried four of their wines throughout lunch – 2006 Chaminé, 2004 Syrah, 2004 Cortes de Cima, and finally, the 2003 Cortes de Cima Reserva – of which the 2004 Cortes de Cima stood out as a stellar wine among its counterparts for us. Aged for 12 months in 80% American and 20% French oak, and then blended with 51% Aragonez (Tempranillo), 45% Syrah and 4% Trincadeira. The wine is deep dark crimson with a very powerful bouquet of red fruits, anise and raw meat. 14.5% alcohol the wine is extremely full bodied showing plum, minerals, black cherries and a touch of chocolate. Absolutely delicious and worth seeking out.

Almost all of Cortes de Cima have received several awards worldwide ranging from Decanter to International Wine Challenge, coupled with quite impressive ratings from Parker, making these wines relatively easy to find in both the USA and the UK. Sadly, I did have difficulty finding the Cortes de Cima 2004 on winesearcher in either the UK or the USA market. I do know that their distribution for the Chamine, however, is not limited.

Comment Received Today by the Winery:
USA and Canada distribution of the Cortes de Cima label – it is widely distributed by all of our USA and Canadian importers (they all have stocked it for many years), but many do not yet have the 2004 vintage, as it has just recently been launched. Obviously sales of Chamine outnumber CdeC by almost 10 to 1. UK distribution of the Cortes de Cima label – Until last month when our first order went out to Laymont and Shaw, UK has been solely Chamine (majestic and oddbins) and Syrah (Waitrose).

Cheers,
Gabriella

Region:Alentejo
Address: 7960-909 Vidigueira · Portugal
Telephone: (00+351) 284- 460060
Fax: (00+351) 284- 460068
Email: [email protected]
Webpage: www.cortesdecima.pt
Bodega Founded:1988
Hectares of Vines: 120
Grape Varieties Grown: Aragonez – 36 hectares; Syrah – 36 hectares; Trincadeira – 10 hectares; Touriga Nacional -11 hectares; Cabernet Sauvignon – 2 hectares
Enologist: Hans Kristian Jorgensen
Wines Elaborated: Chamine, Chamine Branco, Cortes de Cima, Syrah, Trincadeira, Aragonez, Incognito, Touriga Nacional, Cortes de Cima Reserva, Homenagem a Hans Christian Anderson
Importer:
Canada
Vins Balthazard Inc
RKW Wine Imports
Lanigan & Edwards Wine Merchants Ltd.
Whitefish Beverage Agency
Favuzzi International Inc
USA
Bibulous
Tri-Vin Imports, Inc.
Wineworth LLC Importers & Distributors *no website listed
UK
Laymont & Shaw
Majestic
Oddbins
Waitrose

Gabriella’s Tasting Notes
Chamine 2006
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: 14% Alcohol and a blend of Aragonez (Tempranillo) 51%, Syrah 37%, Trincadeira 4% Touriga Nacional 4%, and Cabernet Sauvignon 4%. Dark maroon/purple with lots of red fruit and blueberries on the nose. Medium body with a nice round mouthfeel, but lacking a bit in its pizazz. Most definitely a great wine for a good sausage and cheese pizza.

Rating: 3 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Cortes de Cima Syrah 2004
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: Dark purple in color with a deep rich nose of black cherry, plum, chocolate, mint and black pepper. Very viscous and structured wine with lots of flavorful aromas; however, it’s difficult to find them on the palate battling with the high alcohol level. I did find a strong molasses and vanilla quality on the palate however. Great nose, but hidden palate.
Rating: 3 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Cortes de Cima 2004
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: 14.5% alc. with a blend of 51% Aragonez (Tempranillo), 45% Syrah, 4% Trincadeira, this wine is fantastic! Deep dark red with an incredibly strong bouquet once given a little time to open and show itself. It shows considerable amount of cherry and cassis on the nose with slight aromas of anise and cinnamin. Extremely full bodied, rich and round, with great structure and firm tannins. Really well crafted, showing flavors of red currant, green herbs and vanilla.

Rating: 5 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Cortes de Cima Reserva 2003
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: 14.5% Alc. and a blend of 42% Syrah, 39% Aragonez (Tempranillo) and 19% Touriga Nacional. This wine is dark and inky with strong aromas of blueberry, vanilla, black licorice and wood. Powerful wine with softer features and lots of chocolate, spice and blueberry on the palate.

Rating: 4 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)
Ryan’s Tasting Notes

Chaminé 2006
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: This is a simple wine with a very simple straight forward nose. Cherry, and vanilla being the primary flavors. A huge seller for the winery and I can see why. Medium tannin, high acidity and simple flavors. This wine is meant to be easy to drink and it is, if not a bit boring.
Rating: 2 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Cortes de Cima Syrah 2004
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: The nose on this wine is it’s best quality with anise, meat, mint, clove and mixed raspberry aromas. In the mouth this is a big wine with thick acidity and unctuous qualities. Black liquorice, molasses, black pepper and chocolate lead me to believe that this could be a very fun wine. But the alcohol seems to get in the way of the fruit and other fun flavors. Mixed emotions on this one, and overall I think it’s worth trying.
Rating: 3 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Cortes de Cima 2004
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: The nose on this deep dark red wine is very restrained after opening the bottle, but with time gives way to herbal notes, combined with cassis, cherry, and some earthy coffee bean aromas. Big oak at first that show with vanilla and tannin. I feared that this might just be an oak monster, but with time it really developed into something interesting. Flavors of dark red fruits, chocolate, coffee, and an underlying herbalness, make this wine stand out from it’s peers. While a big wine at 14.5% it handles it very well and I would love to see its development in about 4-5 years.
Rating: 5 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)

Cortes de Cima Reserva 2003
Red wine produced by Cortes de Cima in Alentejo, Portugal
Note: Chocolate and raspberry nose on this monster. Very rich and well made if not a little big. In the mouth black raspberry, coffee, chocolate, and dark spices come out. A well made wine that really needs a few hours to open up fully. I would like to try it over the course of a day to see how it evolves.
Rating: 4 (in 5)
(Tasted on August 6, 2007)