Sunday, January 19, 2014

90+ Cellars 2008 Lot 2 sauvignon blanc

If you prefer your New Zealand sauvignon blancs as

grassy, grapefruit-y
fresh, pungent, and delicious

as possible, and I certainly do, this is one for you.

The concept behind the "virtual winery" 90+ Cellars is sheer genius, or so it seems to me. Perhaps business-minded people routinely think this way, and a true business genius would admire what he sees here, but not be bowled over. Remember when we worried about the glut of unsold wine in Napa, and the coming "s---storm" of bankruptcies and foreclosures there? A bright entrepreneur in Boston looked beyond the worry and founded a company to buy up cases and cases of that good wine, from Napa and elsewhere, and sell it at a discount to everybody. It's called Latitude Beverage Company, and the wines it markets are labeled 90+ Cellars. The website puts it bluntly:

We are taking advantage of the current economic conditions by purchasing high quality and highly rated finished wines direct from wineries at a discount and then passing the savings on to you. Price and availability aren't the only selection criteria. The wines we purchase must have a pedigree of 90 or higher ratings, best buy or gold medal accolades from a respected wine authority or publication.

Other companies with a similar concept are usually buying the winery's excess or distressed wine. We are buying a winery's best and most highly rated finished wine, which they would normally sell under their own label. Wineries are willing to work with us because they either produced more than they need or sales have slowed. In return, they are promised complete anonymity, which we take very seriously.

The wines of 90+ Cellars are great values because we are a virtual winery, we don't own any land or bottling facility. In fact, the source wineries bottle and label our wines for us.

Judging by the blog posts on 90+ Cellars' site, the company seems to have got off the ground in 2009, and in about two years has produced (bought up) over thirty selections, which are called simply by a lot number. Lot 1 was an Australian cabernet, Lot 2 our so tasty sauvignon blanc above, Lot 16 a Napa pinot grigio, and so on. The latest is Lot 33, a 2008 Languedoc rosé.

Of course, anyone who fancies a parlor game could do some sleuthing and probably learn the exact identity of these wines. Find a 2008 shiraz-viognier blend from McLaren Vale, Australia, which earned 91 points from Wine Advocate and retailed for about $24.99, and you may find that it is also 90 + Cellars' "Lot 4." In fact, there is an entirely different website called 90 Plus Wines ("Independent Wine Advice") which will lead you, in a few clicks, to Chateau de Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc rosé 2008, which seems to fit all the announcements 90+ makes about its newest, that Lot 33 Languedoc rosé. Really, what made our Boston entrepreneur think he could maintain any sort of secrecy in this game? But anyway what does it matter? If the new company pries good wines out of warehouses around the world and into the pantries and refrigerators of people who will spend $11.99 (rather than $15.99) on the overabundance, I'm all for it.

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