Our early days of Winery Social Networking

Cortes de Cima Hi-Res

As we launch our most recent vintage 2007 of our flagship Cortes de Cima wine, it causes me pause to reflect on the decade which has passed since we first starting marketing our wines from Cortes de Cima.  The reviews our first vintages – 1996 and 97 – received in the Portuguese press were, to put it mildly, not the most encouraging for newcomers to the wine scene (and foreigners to boot!).

I am now glad that I kept some of these articles filed away, as they are worth a good chuckle, even though at the time we were sorely tempted to use them to fuel a bonfire! One review in the ‘Expresso‘ (20.2.99/JQ) titled “De cima a baixo” (transl: from top to bottom, or from high to low, a pun on the ‘Cima’ in our name), found Cortes de Cima 1997 without the “redondeza e a calidez habituais da planície heroíca” (transl: roundness and heat usual from the heroic plain.) As a parting stab, the reviewer added: “terá o estilo que o seu produtor quer. Para mim, uma coisa é absolutamente evidente: está longe de merecer o preço por que se fez pagar.” (transl: “It must be the style that the producer wants. For me, one thing is absolutely certain, it is far from deserving the price that is being charged.”)  The price listed was 1690$ (=8.36€)

We fared no better in the March ’99 edition of ‘Epicure‘ – with a review of 10 Alentejan red wines by a panel of 7 known Portuguese critics. Cortes de Cima 1997 with a meager 12 out of 20 points, won an uncontested last place, even below the minimum 13 points needed to qualify for the lowest rating of ‘Suficiente’.  Explanation was simply: ‘O seu aroma não e limpo (palha verde) embora na boca seja muito melhor.’ (transl: It’s aroma is not clean (green straw), although the taste is much better)!

However, Cortes de Cima had a hidden secret weapon to fight these negative reviews, which no other Portuguese wine producer was doing at the time! Back in 1999, long before anyone had ever heard about a blog, facebook, twitter, or Adegga rating, Cortes de Cima already had our very own Visitors Guestbook on our very own website!  Way back in the last century, we were already using the power of the internet to connect directly to our wine fans.   At the same time those depressing reviews were reaching us from the Portuguese wine press, Portuguese wine lovers were encouraging us directly to fight on!:

Excerpt from: Visitors Online Guestbook, www.cortesdecima.pt

Date: Mon, 25 Jan 1999

From: Diogo Barata de Tovar

To: Cortes de Cima

Ex. Mos Senhores

Provei uma garrafa do vosso vinho Cortes de Cima Tinto de 97, tendo ficado completamente fascinado pela “obra”. Há já muito que não provava um vinho tão rico, encorpado, cheio de frutas bem Madura, um colosso….e dando muitos parapéns pela “obra prima” que criaram.

(Transl: I tried a bottle of Cortes de Cima red 1997, and was completely fascinated by this “work”. It’s been a long time since I have tried a wine this rich, full bodied, full of well ripened fruits, a colossal…many congratulation for this “masterpiece” which you have created.)

And outside of Portugal, the very same Cortes de Cima 1997, brought home the only Silver Medal for Alentejo in the 98 International Wine Challenge and received a rave review “The nose on this wine promises a great deal, bursting with fruity, ripe aromas – and it delivers too, with a superbly smooth, rich palate and a minerally edge from the balanced tannins.”  Cortes de Cima the producer  was also highlighted as “a fine, new, expanding estate at the southeast point of the Alentejo.” (Wine Magazine, Oct 1998.)

Vindima 1997

2 comments on “Our early days of Winery Social Networking

  1. João Pedro Pereira on said:

    Well, Portuguese wine world is just like that…
    Even today, I don’t think critics are fair with your wines, with some exceptions.
    You just keep showing them they are wrong on that and on a lot of other issues.
    I remember a lot of things that everybody said ten years ago, and even today:
    “You can not produce good reds in Vidigueira”
    “Syrah is not a good variety in Alentejo”
    “Your trellis system is no good”
    “You can not produce high quality wine with irrigation”
    “To have good wine, you can not produce over 5 tons”
    “Every winery will allways produce a high percentage of cheap bulk wine”
    “You can not raise your volumes without loosing quality”
    “You can not export Portuguese wine at a good price”
    And so on…

    Keep on your good work, answering them “Yes, we can!”

    Very proud to have worked there and gratefull for learning so much with Hans!

  2. Jacques de Weerdt on said:

    Ha, a very good chuckle indeed !!

    I remember very well after having sampled a bottle of Cortes de Cima 1997 in a place I cannot remember that shortly after I drove all the way from the Algarve to Vidigueira to see for myself where that spectacular wine came from.

    So in December 99, I loaded up at the source on Cortes de Cima 97, Chamine 98 and Aragonez 98.

    Overnight, my circle of Cortes de Cima wine loving friends in the Algarve grew exponential, so in April 2000 I was back in Vidigueira once again “demanding” another 180 97 vintage bottles. Hans just kind of stared at me and said something like “ok, ok if you know where to get them”

    Well, like anybody else, I just had to wait until the 98 vintage was released, somewhat later that year!

    Since then I have been serving Cortes de Cima wines to all my friends and except for one Portuguese self declared wine connoisseur, a Lisboa based neurosurgeon, who after reading the label and sampling the CdC 98 declared it sub standard, I never had anything then happy consumers.

    I just wish that here in northern Thailand I could get my hands on some of your “sub standard” produce

    Carrie & Hans, please keep up the good work

    All best,


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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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A 100% Alvarinho 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.

Cortes de Cima Rosé

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Crafted from pressing and fermenting early picked Aragonez (Tempranillo) and Merlot together, it is all about delicacy and lightness.


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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’.

Chaminé Tinto

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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 Tinto

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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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