The 90+ Cellars Mendocino Chardonnay Lot 122 2016 is a negociant wine sourced from vineyards in the Mendocino AVA, located north of Sonoma and west of Napa in Northern California. A negociant (a French term) buys surplus wine from mainstream wineries and sells these wines at a discount. Because the wines are exactly the same as the wine produced by the original winery, who made what is kept secret. Negotiants have operated in France for 100s of years and they stay in business by having excellent reputations for offering quality wine at a good price. 90+ Cellars offers negociant wines from all over the wine world, they have no vineyards or winery of their own. In most cases the original winery when bottling the wine changes the label machine from their own label to the 90+ Cellars label and that basically is the only difference in the wine. In 90+ Cellars early years (2009) it was not uncommon for the original winery to remember to change the label, but forgot to change the corks. The secret of who made what was exposed by the wineries name on the cork, that isn’t an issue with Lot 122, it’s a screw cap. So, since everything is hush-hush I can’t give you any information on the making of this Chardonnay, but like all good negotiants, I have sampled enough 90+ Cellars wine to trust their reputation for bring bang for the buck. The alcohol content is a ripe 14.2%.
The color is a pale wheat yellow. The nose is apple, melon, lemon, pear, a little lime, a hint of vanilla, and peach, with a faint floral edge. This is a dry wine, with a little heft to the body, mellow fruit and citrus flavors and a solid dose of acidity. It starts with apple mixed with lemon, grapefruit mingled with melon, and Bosc pear. The mid-palate adds a soft slap of spice, along with light cream and a touch of tropical fruit mixed with tart lime. The acidity gives the Chardonnay length and allows it to work well as a food wine, but does not interfere with you’re sipping pleasure. The finish mirrors the body of the wine and linger for some time.
The 90+ Cellars Mendocino Chardonnay Lot 122 2016 is an excellent Chardonnay selling for under $10 (I found it for $8.99), yeah, I know this same Chard sells for about $13 to $15 under another label, but that is the beauty of negociant wine. There are several negotiants operating in the US, some doing high-end wine, some doing low-end, 90+ seems to be working somewhere in the middle. The key is finding a negociant that brings wines that matches your palate. If you find that supplier you can drink wonderful wines at terrific savings.