Our Story

More than one century ago from Azores to America in a sailing boat…

Our story starts with a sailboat. In 1888 at the age of 16, Francisco Correia Sarmento set out in a sailboat from Santa Cruz da Graciosa, Azores to America. From Boston he moved to the Wild West of California, married an English immigrant, and 3 generations later, Carrie was born.

Fast forward 100 years and another sailboat. Hans, a Dane had been working for 20 years in Malaysia as an oil palm engineer, meets Carrie, and they decide to trade the tropical plantation lifestyle for a sailboat, and set out around Europe in search of a place to start a family and plant a vineyard.

In 1988 our sailboat brought us to Vidigueira, albeit 100 km inland from the rugged Atlantic west coast. The oak-clad rolling hills reminded Carrie of her native California, and the proximity of the 400 meters high Serra do Mendro convinced Hans that it was a perfect location for making wine. The Romans had already discovered this area to be an excellent place to grow grapes and olives – way back in 65AD when Caeser commandeered Alentejo from Beja. Their trees still stand here and even produce olives!

Cortes de Cima, when we first moved there in 1988, was what is considered by Alentejan standards a ‘medium sized’ farm of 375 ha of olive groves and traditional dry arable land. First things first – we did up the old ‘monte’ (the white farm buildings perched on the hill), put in electricity, and built our own dam for irrigation. With that in order, in 1991 we started planting our first vineyards, and the first of our 2 children was born.

In planting our vineyards, Hans decided to do it ‘my way’ following neither local advice nor regulations. Vidigueira in those days was known for it’s white varieties, for which we didn’t think the warm climate was suitable, so we planted reds. We were also advised to follow the DOC system with traditional varieties and traditional French cordon trellising- and did neither. Following the advice of an Australian ‘Vine Dr’ (Dr. Richard Smart), we adopted a raised open canopy for our vineyard trellising. Against the DOC rules we planted Syrah, as Hans was convinced it would thrive in our climate. Later on, the fame of our Syrah, surreptitiously named Incógnito, would eventually force the rules to be changed.

One must wait at least 5 to 6 years from planting vineyards until the first bottle of wine can be sold. So after planting our first 50 hectares of vineyard and 50 hectares of olive trees, we turned to horticulture in the interim years for income – growing tomatoes, melons, and broccoli for the fresh markets.

In 1996, the first vintage of Cortes de Cima emerged – grown, produced and bottled on the family estate. The local wine writers did not hide their disdain and panned our wine style. Smarting, we decided to send our wines from the first 2 vintages (1996 and 1997) to the International Wine Challenge London 1998, and were vindicated by winning the top medals for Portugal! Next, our first ‘illegal’ Syrah, Incógnito 1998, won a Gold Medal in Brussels, and was picked by Jancis Robinson as one of her favorite Portuguese wines. It didn’t take long before the Portuguese press heralded us as the latest ‘Wine Discovery’ and our fame in Portugal was sealed, and Cortes de Cima, Chaminé and Incógnito were on their way to becoming the well known ‘iconic’ brands that they are today.

Today, Cortes de Cima, is still a family run vineyard and winery under the daily supervision of Hans (winemaker) and Carrie Jorgensen (marketing), although our children, born and raised in the Alentejo, have ‘flown the nest’. Our vineyards now consist of 130 ha of mainly Aragonez, Syrah, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Petit Verdot, Anton Vaz and Verdelho, but Hans has not lost his love of experimenting with new varieties. Hankering back to the old Malaysian days when Hans worked with palm oil, we also produce and bottle our own extra virgin Olive Oil.


Chaminé Branco

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Herbaceous crispness with a final burst of acidity.
A blend of local and international varieties from our cool Alentejan Atlantic coastal vineyards.

Cortes de Cima Branco

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A barrel aged blend of local and international varieties grown on our cool Atlantic coastal vineyards and in the warmer Alentejan interior.

Sauvignon Blanc

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A 100% Sauvignon Blanc produced exclusively from grapes grown at our new coastal vineyards near Vila Nova de Milfontes on the Alentejan coast, 3 km from the Atlantic Ocean.


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Fresh, light bodied and easy drinking. With intense ruby colours and attractive ripe berry character. A fresh and young wine that is ready for immediate drinking.

The name Courela originates from one of our vineyard plots – Courela dos Pageis, and translates as ‘a strip of cultivated land’.


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This is our most popular wine, boasting a consistent track record. A juicy, ripe, easy drinking wine, bottled early, usually within 6 months of harvest time and without any oak ageing. Best drunk young, but will improve with short term cellaring. Mainly Aragonez (Tempranillo) and Syrah, blended with other Portuguese varieties.

The name Chaminé (pronounced: sha-min-E; translation: chimney) originates from one of our vineyard plots – Chaminé de Gião

Cortes de Cima

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Our flagship wine. Full bodied blend with ripe, silky tannins.


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Ripe rich fruit with some earth and spice.
In 1991, we were the first ones to plant Syrah in the Alentejo, choosing rootstock from southern Rhone clones. Today, our range consists of 3 different 100% Syrah varietals.


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Outstanding tannins with aromas of red berry fruits.

Known as Tempranillo in Spain, and Tinta Roriz in the north of Portugal. Always an elegant wine, it has richness with structure and outstanding tannins, which impart a good ageing ability.


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One of the more common indigenous varieties in Southern Portugal, characterized by fruit, and low tannins.

Petit Verdot

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Intense concentration, strong tannins, aromatic complexity with a refreshing natural acidity.

One of the ‘noble’ Bordeaux varieties. A late ripener, it is better suited for warmer climates, like Alentejo, where it can reach a good maturity, resulting in wines of intense concentration and color, strong tannins and aromatic complexity, while maintaining it’s freshness, thanks to it’ s ability to maintain it’s natural acidity.

Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen

Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen

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A special commemorative 100% Syrah launched for the bicentennial of the Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. Elegant with a soft, long finish.

In 1991, we were the first ones to plant Syrah in the Alentejo, choosing rootstock from southern Rhone clones. Today, our range consists of 3 different 100% Syrah varietals. Starting with the entry level is our popular ‘Cortes de Cima Syrah’, which is bottled every vintage. Next, we move up a notch both in concentration and quality, to the mid-level range – ‘Homenagem a Hans Christian Andersen’, bottled in most vintages. We culminate at the top, with our reserve quality labeling, the iconic ‘Incógnito’, only bottled in exceptional years.

Touriga Nacional

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Lifted violet and dark berry fruit aromatics, elegant intense and long palate.

Best known as one of the 5 main varieties used for Port wine, further south here in the Alentejo it’s fruit develops a highly floral and aromatic character. It is a low producer, with both small bunches and berries.

Previous vintages have won numerous gold medals and trophies, including IWC Best Portuguese Red Trophy (2005), IWC Touriga Trophy (2003), and the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wine List (2002).


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Bold, superb balance and sumptuous finish. The mystery name refers to a time when Syrah was not permitted in Alentejo.


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The top of the range, made only in exceptional years. Complex layers of fruit, long on the palate with solid tannins.

This is the star of our range, only produced in limited quantities and in exceptional years. A full bodied blend of Aragonez, Syrah and other Portuguese varieties, barrel aged for 12 months in new oak barrels. The wine is finely structured, with a feeling of restrained power.

Previous vintages have always scored +90 Parker Points.

Olive Oil

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Our Olive Oil is produced from our own olive trees, which are from the Portuguese variety, Cobrançosa, planted shortly after our arrival to Cortes de Cima in 1988. As with our vineyards, our olivegroves are accredited under a sustainable program called ‘Integrated Protection’, which limits and regulates the use of chemicals.


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Created from pure red wine from the Portuguese Touriga Nacional variety. Aged for 5 years in American oak barrels.


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