Highlights: Cortes de Cima Incógnito 2013 Alentejo, Portugal

There’s an interesting story behind this wine. Incógnito is the famous Syrah made by Cortes de Cima, first produced in 1998.

Cortes de Cima have been quite important in the development of the Alentejo. Carrie and Hans Jorgensen have a remarkable energy to them, and when they put their heart into establishing a winery here back in 1988, they didn’t do it by halves. The Danish/American couple have built up a sizeable estate in Vidiguera (180 hectares of vines), and also branched out to explore the Alentejo coast (where they have another 60 hectares of vines, so a serious undertaking).

Hans Jorgensen had a slightly rebellious streak, and decided that it would be interesting to plant a disallowed grape variety, Syrah, in the Alentejo (you’d have to label the wine as table wine with no varietal or vintage information). The vines went into the ground in 1991. The resulting wine was so good it has attracted a bit of a cult following, and part of it is the story: this is labelled Incógnito because it couldn’t be Syrah or Shiraz. But on the back label, there’s a vertical list of five words, spelling out Syrah with their initials. Under this, a Bob Dylan quote: “to live outside the law you must be honest”. Fortunately, they didn’t get in a lot of trouble, and now the wine is legally labelled as a Vinho Regional. This has been an important wine in the development of the Alentejo.

So 2013 also has an interesting story. This was an unusual vintage, and because of cool growing conditions and a late harvest, it was actually released after the 2014, and so is now the current release. An asynchronous release. The result is a more restrained wine than many of the releases of Incógnito, with good structure, and which has begun to show what it’s capable of.

Cortes de Cima Incógnito 2013 Alentejo, Portugal
14% alcohol. Compact nose with a hint of leather, just a tiny whiff of vinyl, and sweet black fruits. The palate is taut, complex and compact, with good structure and acidity under the dense blackberry and black cherry fruit. It has a lovely freshness to it, with a touch of development but also the potential for further evolution. There’s a hint of pepper and some waxy savoury character sitting under the fruit. Finishes quite juicy, and it keeps evolving in the glass: there’s definitely something to this wine. Will carry on developing in nice ways I reckon. 93/100

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