Chateau Montelena Sold to Bordeaux Estate – Chateau Cos d’Estournel

Revered Bordeaux Second growth estate Chateau Cos d’Estournel has decided to make an investment in the American Wine Industry, with it’s purchase of Chateau Montelena, the 40,000 case winery that helped put California wine on the international scene in the 1976 “Judgment of Paris”. The price: A cool $120 – $150 million still unconfirmed. This is just another in the growing line of Napa Wineries being sold to European investors. Stags Leap Wine Cellars brought in a reported $185 Million last year, superseded by Duckhorn winery which garnered $250 Million. Thanks to a weak dollar, these purchases are great bargains to those wielding the currently Strong Euro.

“We have been looking for a while to purchase something in Napa Valley,” said Jean-Guillaume Prats, general manager of Cos-d’Estournel. “It’s similar to Bordeaux and we can give and take mutual knowledge and experience.”

“This is a perfect fit—a dream marriage,” said Jim Barrett, in a statement. “We could not have asked for a finer team to carry on this legacy.”

Coincidentally, the movie Bottle Shock is slated to hit the big screen August 6th. The movie recounts the famous event that helped Chateau Montelena, Stags Leap Wine Cellars, as well as other California Wineries reach superstardom.

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Photo credit Flickr turbobumble

Review: Matusalem Rum 15 Year Reserve

Tasting a distilled spirit is a bit different than tasting wine, although the basic premise is the same. Since the alcohol levels are much higher, at 40% versus your standard wine around 14%, the first thing you smell is the ethanol. That being the case, a taster must adjust their method in order to identify the unique aromas. I have personally found that keeping my nose above a tulip shaped glass while employing short controlled sniffs, allows me to pick up the aroma better than swirling and sticking my head in the glass. That said, the complexity and nuances that can be found in any distilled alcohol, rum included, are amazing. Sometimes, just touching the liquid to your lips and licking is enough to experience the flavor.

That brings me to Matusalem, a distillery operating out of the Dominican Republic. I received this 15 year old French Oak cask blended rum as a press sample, and didn’t know what to expect. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised, as I thought only pirates could drink rum straight up. The company has a rich past, dating back into the 19th century in Cuba, where their production methods still have roots.

…the company’s founders borrowed the Solera techniques used to produce Europe’s finest wines, cognacs and sherries.

The following are my notes on this delightful effort.

Matusalem Rum – Gran Reserva 15 year
40% abv
Retail: $28 USD
Notes: This golden hue color rum has a revealing aroma of vanilla, cream, and caramel with a hint of smoke. Although smooth, the rum tingles on your tongue, and leads into a raisin flavor that finises with a warming sensation on the back of the throat. This Rum is a blend of aged French Oak casks which lend to the complexity of the finish, which is quite long. This Rum is great for sipping neat or on the rocks, but would also work as a fine addition to a mixed drink.
Score: 90 (A-)
Update: Imported by Proximo Spirits

(P.S. I checked out the website and a lot of the descripters I used are also used by the company. That’s the first time in a while I have seen my palate match up with that of the marketing department. Grab a bottle, set these notes aside and see what you come up with.)

Poll: What do you think of Honig’s latest marketing campaign?

Some of you who have tasted at Honig Vineyard’s in Napa Valley,  may have recently received a postcard from the winery. I’ve scanned one, and posted it here, because I wonder if this campaign will help or damage the brand image of this winery. The back of the postcard directs you to Honig’s latest video (, and lists all the members of the band pictured on the front. This is an annual campaign by the company, and in the past, there have been quite a few witty designs. (Archive here)

What do you think of the latest campaign: Great marketing, or brand suicide? Take part in the first ever Winexpression poll below!

Note: The winery has a blog post with information on the history of the postcards, as well as the design for this year. But we all know it’s the first impression that matters, so what do you think….
Honig Rocks Postcard
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