90+ Cellars 2012 Sonoma Coast Reserve
Sonoma Coast, California
We are living in the golden age of wine drinking. Hands down, no questions asked, there are more high quality, interesting, and delicious wines available at affordable prices than ever before. Don't just take my word for it, real wine writers and critics say so!
The abundance of good quality wine has spawned a new breed of wine businesses, akin to the negociant model, but focused on offering finished wine at deep discounts from wineries that want to sell it. In any given year, a winery may have too much wine, have a change of ownership, produce a wine that is high quality but not up to their standards, or may simply find it more convenient to sell an entire lot all at once. Enter 90+ Cellars. 90+ agrees to keep the source of the wine anonymous, packages it under their own label, and then sells it at a deep discount. Ingenious, no doubt.
Despite frequently preferring pinot noir from Oregon, the memory of a recent trip to Sonoma forced my hand in picking this up. I found it for $15 at Mariano's, one of Chicago's large grocery store chains. I tend to avoid cheap California pinot noir at all costs because they almost always lack the finesse and earthiness I like. I decided to give this a go though... and I'm happy I did.
Pretty pale ruby color in the glass. Attractive and alluring nose of cherry/strawberry, cola, bright florals, and a hint of earthiness. The palate is equally enjoyable and similar in profile with a soft mouthfeel, medium body, medium acidity, and a pleasant finish. This is light, lean, and Burgundian in nature, a far cry from a lot of the plonk that passes as California pinot noir in this price category.
I've had several other 90+ Cellars wines and thought all of them offered a lot of bang for the buck. As shown by a few blind taste tests, it's clear that they offer a great value. I'm conflicted though. The foundation of 90+ Cellars business model flies in the face of my desire for transparency around viticulture and winemaking methods and distaste for the 100-point rating system. That being the case, I enjoyed the bottle a lot... and well, sometimes that is enough.