3: Cortes de Cima
the side of one of the vineyards at Cortes de Cima is a long,
rather bumpy looking strip, perhaps 20 feet wide - it looks like a
couple of vine rows are missing. But this is proprietor Hans
Jorgensen's landing strip. Inside a shed at the side of the winery
there's a shiny, attractive light aeroplane. This used to be a
tool of the trade when Hans worked running sugar plantations in
the far east; now I get the impression it is a rather nice toy.
Still, he's had rather scared employees hanging out of the side
door taking photographs of the vines below in his own take on
precision viticulture via airborne monitoring.
Cima is one of Portugal's two leading 'new world' wineries
(the other being Esporão), and its very successful wines
with good international distribution have helped put this
region on the map. The new world approach begins in the
vineyard, where Richard Smart (an Australian who is one of
the best known viticultural experts) has been consulting.
are trellised here with the Smart-Dyson system (illustrated
right). This involves a tall vertical canopy with a special
moveable system of catch wires. About half way through the
growing season, while things are pretty vigorous, the
guidewires are used to catch some of the sprawling shoots
and direct them downwards. The result is a large green wall
- the aim behind this system is to get vigorous vines
(usually a bad thing for quality) in balance and produce
relatively high yields of good quality grapes.
are made in an unashamedly modern mould, and have proved
tremendously successful with their accessible, forward
fruit. Because of their success, the prices for the top
wines are very high in Portugal, which tends to make them
look a little expensive in the UK when compared with their
peers. Still, you can't blame a winery for their prices: if
they sell substantially below market value, then someone
else gets to make the margin, which isn't really fare.
especially liked the Syrah 2002, The Touriga Nacional 2003
and the Homage to Hans Christian Andersen, which I thought
were superb. The Chaminé, the cheapest wine in the line-up,
is hard to resist with its joyful fruit.
Cortes de Cima Chaminé 2003
Aragonez, Syrah and Touriga Nacional fermented and aged
in stainless steel. Lovely forward fresh berry fruit on the
nose, which is vivid and quite bright. The palate is juicy,
rich and fruity, but with some nice chewy structure also.
This is fantastically fresh and vivid. Very good+ 89/100
Vigorous vines on a high trellis
Hans Jorgensen demonstrates the Smart-Dyson system, catching
the foliage with moveable guidewires and directing it
The result: shots grow down as well as up, creating a wall
Cortes de Cima Aragonez 2002
Tangy earthy edge to the red fruits on the nose. The palate is
savoury and chewy with nice structure. Quite a dense, chewy,
earthy sort of wine that’s best with food. Very good+ 88/100
Cortes de Cima Trincadeira 2003
Fresh red berry fruits dominate the nose, which is ripe and
rounded with a subtle tarry edge. Vivid acidity on the palate
which has a slightly spritzy edge to it. An unusual wine, but
quite nice, still. Very good+ 87/100
Cortes de Cima 2001
A blend of Syrah, Aragonez and Trincadeira with bit part roles
for Cabernet and Touriga Nacional. Ripe, open nose with an
appealing tarry, spicy richness to the red fruits. The palate has
evolved quite nicely with a tarry depth and a spicy finish.
Delicious. (Interestingly, this has 5.7 g/litre of residual
sugar.) Very good+ 89/100
Cortes de Cima Syrah 2002
Fresh, vivid juicy fruit on the nose – very fresh and clean.
The palate shows ripe berry fruit with nice structure and depth.
Restrained and quite elegant with a savoury edge. A lovely wine.
Very good/excellent 90/100
Cortes de Cima Touriga Nacional 2003
Fantastic open Touriga nose, which is highly perfumed with a
subtle herby edge. The palate displays ripe berry fruit with good
definition and spicy, tarry structure. Expressive and satisfying,
with the fruit having the upper hand. Great balance. Very
Cortes de Cima ‘Homage to Hans Christian Andersen
A varietal Syrah, made to mark the 200th anniversary of the
birth of the famous Dane storyteller. Fantastic nose of perfumed
red berry fruit with nice freshness and depth. There’s also a
subtle tarry edge. The palate is ripe and full with fantastic
weight and richness, countered effectively by spicy structure.
Bold but balanced. Very good/excellent 93/100
Cortes de Cima Incógnito 2003
This has become a bit of a cult wine in Portugal. I saw a
bottle selling for €70 in one shop. It’s a varietal Syrah, and
displays a full, rich, spicy tarry nose with nicely defined fresh
red berry fruits. The palate is open with more berry fruits and
some lushness. It’s a seductive style of wine. Very
Cortes de Cima Reserva 2001
A blend of Syrah and Aragonez. Ripe, open spicy nose shows
some evolution, with spicy, tarry oak evident. It’s quite
savoury with some tea like notes. The palate is soft, open and
evolved with nice soft spicy structure. Tasty stuff that is
evolving nicely. Very good/excellent 91/100