Drinking high quality wines from the world’s most sought after wine regions should not be a luxury reserved for those with fat wallets. After all, the beauty of wine is its ability to cross cultural boundaries. Wine is science, art, history, and geography all wrapped into an enjoyable beverage. Yet often times, people are deterred from diving into wines from a new country or wine region due to high price tags. Thankfully, there’s Ninety Plus Cellars.
About Ninety Plus Cellars
Ninety Plus Cellars is one of the fastest growing wine brands in America. And it’s easy to see why. Actually, I wish I discovered them sooner.
Established in 2009, Ninety Plus Cellars was built on a mission to make it easier and more affordable for wine lovers like you and me to drink world class wines. Founder Kevin Mehra began with the help of the latest edition of Wine Spectator and a phone. His plan was simple. First, reach out to producers with consistently high ratings and ask if they had wine for sale. Then, put their wine behind the Ninety Plus Cellars label and sell it for less. Luckily for us, his plan worked.
Basically, Ninety Plus Cellars is a modern day négociant working on an international scale. They scour the globe, seeking out highly acclaimed wineries and top vineyard sites. Led by VP & Wine Director Brett Vankoski, their team selects only the best wines for their portfolio from thousands tasted each year. Ninety Plus Cellars then leverages their industry relationships to purchase these wines and bottle them under their own label.
With the industry relationships they’ve built over the years and without the large overhead of a traditional winery, Ninety Plus Cellars offers premium wines for less. In fact, the company’s name refers to the 90+ point ratings bestowed upon top producers by the likes of Wine Spectator and other trade publications.
Here Are The Perks
Premium wines’ high price tags are a result of costly production methods. For quality grapes, more labor is required in the vineyards and harvest is typically done by hand rather than machine. Once the grapes reach the winery, more labor and potentially more costly equipment is needed for processing. Then, comes barrel aging. This quickly adds up when you consider that one new barrel costs $900 – $2,000 depending on whether it’s French or American oak. Additionally, the final product will have varying amounts of markup subject to where you buy the wine.
The genius of Ninety Plus Cellars is that they’ve tapped into the surplus from wineries of this caliber. They allow you to pay for the wine without paying for the label it’s normally packaged under.
Quality International Wines For All
Ninety Plus Cellars’ wines are truly for everyone, but especially for those interested in expanding their palate on a budget. From what I’ve tasted, the quality to price ratio is off the charts with this company. Ninety Plus Cellars has built their portfolio with an emphasis on curation and value. This is definitely evident in the quality of wines that they offer. Prices range from $12 – $40+ per bottle. They also offer a quarterly membership, which starts at $50.
If you’re interested in diversifying your wine cellar with more international wines, this is a great affordable option to do so. Additionally, if you’re studying for a WSET, CMS or other wine certification, Ninety Plus Cellars makes for a cost-efficient way to practice your blind tasting skills. Or maybe you just want to buy some high-quality wine that you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to open. Ninety Plus Cellars has you covered.
My Tasting Notes
The team at Ninety Plus Cellars kindly gifted me three bottles from their portfolio to try. Each one impressed me and was so expressive in terms of variety and region.
I was eating at a Thai restaurant in Sydney, Australia when I first grasped how magnificently expressive a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc can be. I don’t remember the producer of the bottle we ordered. But drinking this Ninety Plus Cellars Sauvignon Blanc took me right back to that moment.
The grapes for this wine were grown in the cool, dry coastal climate of the Awatere Valley in Marlborough. The fruit was crushed, de-stemmed and cold soaked prior to fermenting in 100% stainless steel.
- Brilliant in the glass with a light intensity, almost clear green-yellow color with light green reflections
- Stunning on the nose with high intensity aromas bursting from the glass, including tart lemon zest, juicy grapefruit, salinity, minerals, and fresh, lemongrass
- Medium bodied with crisp acidity, this wine is a zinger – just as vibrant on the palate as it is on the nose
- Packed with refreshing flavor and well-balanced with an elegant finish
- The ideal wine for washing down fresh oysters, sushi, or coconut shrimp
- This wine is perfect for pairing with my favorite Thai dish – green curry
- $12.49 per bottle
This Riesling was grown on steep slopes in slate soil vineyards of the Mosel Saar Ruwer valley. “Steep Slopes” refers to the 30% incline of these vineyards in an area with an average incline of 45%. This wine was vinified in stainless steel to maintain freshness.
- Brilliant pale-yellow color with golden reflections
- Gorgeous, medium-plus intensity aromas of white peach, lime, lemon verbena, crushed gravel, bosc pear, and a touch of pastoral hay
- This is a wine I can’t stop smelling.
- Medium-bodied with super high, racy acidity that will send your palate on a ride
- There’s some residual sugar to balance out the high acidity
- A juicy, and refreshing wine – do not leave this bottle unattended
- Like biting into a juicy white peach with some lime squeezed on top
- Really concentrated flavors that seduce your palate long after each sip
- $12.49 per bottle
Ninety Plus Cellars Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California 2018 Lot 75
Hand-selected Pinot Noir cultivated in one of the world’s best cool-climate regions for this finicky variety. Here, the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean and the coastal fog create the ideal environment for Pinot Noir to thrive.
- Brilliant, light intensity ruby red color
- Medium plus intensity aromas of juicy red cherries, violet, cocoa, and cherry cola right up front, plus cranberry notes and earthy undertones
- Quite a luxurious bouquet
- Light bodied and oh so smooth on the palate
- The red fruit flavors are concentrated on the palate and linger with just a touch of those earthy undertones
- Total typicity of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
- A $19.99 bottle that drinks like a $60 bottle of Pinot Noir
Disclosure: Note that I am an affiliate of Ninety Plus Cellars and my affiliate links are included in this blog post. I occasionally promote things for a commission, but only things I actually enjoy and think you would, too. I will earn a commission if you make a purchase using these links.