08 November, 2009

Visit to Cortes de Cima Winery - Pre European Wine Blogger's Conference

On Thursday, 29 October, Hans and Carrie Jorgensen and their team, hosted a pre EWBC afternoon live tasting and blogging event at their winery, Cortes de Cima in Vidigueira, Portugal. Located in the Alantejo VR, the winery lies on 365 hectares (approx 900 acres) of land in the south of Portugal near the town of Vidigueira. It's planted to 130 acres of 7 varietals of wine grapes - 5 red and 2 white. Of the other land, 50 hectares are planted to olive trees, and 50 hectares are reforestation of cork and holm oak.

Cortes de Cima hosted me the evening before the event and I was fortunate enough to spend the night in the guest winemaker flat. My evening office on the patio of their tasting room was as good as it gets with wi-fi, electricity to charge the batteries, fresh bread and goat cheese, their excellent estate grown early harvest olive oil and an early sampling of some of their wines. The morning view over 350 hectares was breathtaking and is one of high points of the visit.

After a light lunch, the live blogging began. My post that was posted live from the event is here. Several of their wines were presented, and also of note: this was the first Portuguese live blogging event & in addition to the live blogging from the winery, we participated with several other attendees of the EWBC who remained in Lisbon at the Sala Ogival de Lisboa via a live video link. We all tasted the same wines simultaneously and shared our thoughts and opinions with each other. A short video of the event is on YouTube.

To the wines....We tasted one white, their Chaminè 
Branco and several reds. My choice of the lot was the Cortes de Cima 2005 Aragonez. If you're not familiar with the Portuguese varietal, synonyms for Aragonez are Tempranillo and Tinta Roriz

 Single varietals are an interesting concept in Portugal, where blends of three to many varietals are the norm. I liked this simple approach to presenting the Aragonez, grown in a very warm climate, as it likes, and crafted to drink now with rich meats and vegetables. Fall, with its rich harvest foods, is a great time for Aragonez. As I mentioned in the live blog, this is a peppery deep wine with good structure, rich blackberry fruit on the nose and a wide and long finish. Satisfying acidity brings balance and encourages pairing with salted red meat, pork, game meats and rich fowl such as duck.

We followed the tasting/live blogging event with a winery tour where winemaker Hamilton Reis showed several of the innovations the winery uses to further their craft. Of note is their use of simultaneous Malolactic and Alcoholic fermentation (careful!!!...technical paper for geeky folks). It's common here in California, but from what I can tell, they are the only winery employing the technique in Portugal. It's not unexpected. Cortes de Cima is seemingly the leader in the
progressive winery business in Portugal. First to blog, first to tweet, first to.....well, the list goes on with vinerard management.

Of interest is their use of the Smart-Dyson canopy trellis system in which vines are trained much higher, and trained only on the sun-facing side of the vine. It's a very interesting and simple approach that provides a more balanced growing climate for the fruit in some areas, particularly warm vineyards. By doing so, CdC uses nearly no chemicals owing to better air circulation & greater distance of the fruit from the warm soil. Additionally, the vine also proves to be easier to manage, once trained. Very interesting stuff, indeed.

Finally, the event wrapped up with a blending contest between 3 groups of bloggers. We each made a blend that was judged by our peers. The winning blend, given the moniker "Great Pumpkin Wine", was actually bottled by Hamilton and his crew, labeled and brought to the EWBC in Lisbon the following day. The event was great fun and the culmination to a rewarding day.

Our thanks again to everyone at Cortes de Cima for their hospitality!


  1. Jason, thanks for the great report! I would also just like to mention that I am a native Californian myself, born and raised in Marin County.
    Also, for those of your Californian readers who might be interested, our importer in the West Coast is Vinos Unico, SF and Vinum, Seattle, and East Coast is TriVin.

  2. wouw I like cortes de Cima. I consider to go there. thanks for advice ;)


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