Vintage Report 2011 – Record early start to a very good harvest

Vintages can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards,” to paraphrase philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

Synopsis: Harvest 2011, our 16th harvest. Another record winter rainfall. Record tropical heat in May. Record early start to harvest. Superlative summer and harvest weather. Harvest quantity – up. Harvest quality – above average.

For the second year running, we had an abnormally wet winter. From October 2010 to September 2011 there was an over abundant 1650 mm of annual rainfall, just short of last year’s record 1750 mm, nearly 4 times the average, and once again filling our damns to overflowing.

The 2010/2011 vineyard calendar ran 1-2 weeks earlier than normal. Bud-break was spotted 1st of March and flowering in late April. The weather during flowering was mild, assisting in an even pollination.

May was the hottest in Portugal since records began in 1931, with tropical nights and temperatures up to +3º above normal. The abnormal heat mixed with excessive rain, created tropical humid conditions, and posed an enormous challenge for us to fight a constant threat of mildew.  Some grapegrowers in the area lost their entire crop. The remainder of the summer growing season was warm, dry, and without any great detrimental heat spikes, which can shut down the vines, and stop grape maturation. With the exception of only one brief but alarming wet interlude in the first days of September, the clement summer weather lasted throughout the harvest months, well into late October.

5th August was a record early harvest start at Cortes de Cima, when the first lot of Gouveio white grapes arrived at the winery, followed by Sauvignon Blanc, Antão Vaz and Verdelho. The red grapes in their turn, had their own record early start on the 16th August with the first batch of Syrah followed by Trincadeira. At the peak, the harvest workforce topped at 75 workers and lasted 10 weeks, finishing on 12 October. The total 2011 Harvest quantity was 1,622 tons up +16% from last year. 1,396 tons red varieties and 226 tons white varieties.

This year for the first time, the largest portion of our white grapes came from our new Alentejan coastal vineyards which we started planting in 2008, near Vila Nova de Milfontes, 3km from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s exciting for us to see the impact that the cooler Alentejan coastal climate has had on these varieties, reflected in the good fruit flavors, acid and freshness of the 2011 whites, and assuring a good future for coming vintages from our coastal vineyards. In the winery, some of our best 2011 whites are Verdelho, Gouveio, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc, the later which soon will be bottled as Cortes de Cima’s first coastal Sauvignon Blanc single varietal.

Among the reds, 2011 produced some excellent Syrah, Trincadeira, and Petit Verdot, while Aragonez and Touriga Nacional were less outstanding. In general, the reds are intense, fruity, with good acidity, and strong color.

With the hindsight of a Soren Kierkegaard, we can declare Vintage 2011 to have been a very good year, the best vintage since the excellent 2008.  Furthermore, as it was an especially good year for Syrah, 2011 will be an ‘Incógnito’ year.

inside view

Comments are closed.


Chaminé Branco

Buy online


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

Buy online


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

Sauvignon Blanc

Buy online


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.


Buy online


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’.


Buy online


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

Buy online


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


Buy online


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.


Buy online



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.


Buy online


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

Petit Verdot

Buy online


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

Buy online


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

Buy online



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).


Buy online


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


Buy online



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

Buy online


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.


Buy online


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


Find us...

Latest from our gallery