Lot 93 from 90+ Cellars

Better late than never to worthy discoveries. I tried my first wine from 90+ Cellars earlier this summer: a friend had brought one of the company’s Sauvignon Blancs to a backyard barbecue.

But was it the Lot 64 from northern California’s Lake County, or Lot 2 from New Zealand? I didn’t know enough about 90+ at the time to pay attention. Either way, though, it was nice and, I was told, not expensive.

Later I read up on 90+ Cellars’ story; they’ve certainly garnered great publicity since launching in the recessionary days of mid-2009. Looking for great wines at decent prices, the Boston-based company’s founders sought out highly-rated wineries with unsold product that were willing to have their wine bottled under the 90+ Cellars label, at prices (mostly under $20) below what the original winery names could have commanded.

90-plus Chardonnay (2)

A search on their website turned up 156 retailers and/or restaurants in New York City that offer 90+ wines, from Acker Merrall to the Tribeca Grand Hotel to Bobby Van’s Steakhouse. (You can also purchase the wines from 90+ Cellar’s shopping website.)

In Hoboken, the small but well-stocked Garden Wine & Liquor sells a wide array of 90+ varieties. Garden Wine owner Phil said they’ve proved a huge winner for the store, so he displays them prominently near the entrance.

The reds on recent offer included a Malbec from Lujan de Cuyo, a Pinot, several Cali Cabs, a Bordeaux, and more. Among the whites: that Lot 2 from New Zealand, a Pinot Grigio from Trentino, “French Fusion White” from Languedoc.

For $15, I took home a bottle of Lot 93, a 2012 Russian River Chardonnay, 700 cases made.

What did I think? In the glass, the wine is quite pale, implying Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. The nose suggests mineral, citrus and a hint of cheese. It’s a high-alcohol Chardonnay (14.5%) but doesn’t drink like one. I enjoyed the first sips, but the wine didn’t hit its stride until it had opened up for half an hour. 90 points? I’d give it 89.

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