The 90+ Cellars Big Red Blend Lot 113 2015 is an unusual blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Tempranillo, and Souzoa sourced from vineyards in Lodi, California. 90+ Cellars are Negociants, what negociants do is purchase surplus wine from wineries and sell it under their own label. Sometimes they buy fermented juice from a famous winery and while the original winery will age the juice in expensive French oak casks for 16 months and then sell the wine for $30+, the negociant might use less expensive oak and age the wine for a shorter time and charge $15. Or they may purchase some Cabernet Sauvignon from one winery, Merlot from another and Cabernet Franc from a third and make their own unique Blend. 90+ Cellars contacts a winery that recently was awarded 90 plus points for their wine from a leading wine magazine and offers to buy the surplus of that particular bottling. You are getting the exact same wine, maybe not the same vintage as the wine that got the 90 points, but that the same wine with a different label and a lower cost. Whenever I drink a negociant wine I amuse myself by trying to figure out who made the wine (the negociant and the winery like to keep that info hidden). I thought this one would be easy, just look up who makes a blend with Zinfandel and Souzoa (a Portuguese grape mainly used in making Port). Well, it seems that Portuguese grapes grow very well in Lodi and many producers use them as a secret weapon, a little something unexpected to add to a blend. The alcohol content is a ripe 14.2%.
The color is a dark plum red with an almost clear halo. The nose is unexpected, almost Pinot Noir complicated for a Zinfandel-based blend, cool. There is dark berries, herbs, bacon fat, smoke, and violets. It says Big Red Blend on the label and while this is no meek and mild wine, it tastes balanced and under control. It starts with extracted blackberry, sweeter raspberry, Altoids spice, and plum. The mid-palate brings creamy vanilla, tart cranberry, salty cashew, and black pepper. The tannins stay out-of-the-way, the acidity is in enough supply to work well as a food wine. The finish is full and lingers on and on.
I found the 90+ Cellars Big Red Blend Lot 113 2015 on sale for 9 bucks (I think full price is $12) and it packs a wallop for an under ten dollar Red blend. This is a wine that drinks way more expensive than it costs. In the past, many Lodi wines were big, fruity, maybe a little over-the-top (not that I don’t enjoy those types of wine), but Lot 113 has elegance and depth of flavor, a delicate hand-made this wine. As a Negociant, 90+ Cellars picked a real good wine to negotiate.