Six from Naked Wines

Got a six pack of samples through from innovative new-ish retailer Naked Wines. It’s headed up by the entrepreneurial Rowan Gormley, who was the founder of Virgin Wines.

The good news? The buying seems to be very good: these are all delicious examples of their type.

The less-good news? The pricing. Even though they are good examples of their type, these wines are significantly more expensive than I’d have predicted, based on how much Naked Wines will presumably have paid for them. The direct buying model means that these are all effectively Naked Wines ‘own label’, so a price comparison is not possible. But I wouldn’t recommend any of these wines, tasty as they are, at these prices.

[added later: apparently, 92% of customers get a 33% cash-back, which makes the prices more reasonable, and with which I'd be happy to recommend these wines]

Benjamin Darnault Picpoul de Pinet 2009 Languedoc
12.5% alcohol. Nice, pure pear and white peach fruit with an attractive texture and sufficient acidity to keep it fresh. Lovely balance and purity of fruit here. Thoroughly drinkable. 88/100 (£9.99 Naked Wines)

Benjamin Darnault Organic St Chinian 2009 Languedoc
14.5% alcohol. Lovely fresh dark cherry and blackberry fruit with great definition. Some meaty, bloody, spicy savoury notes, too. Very nice balance between the sweet and savoury here, with some grippy tannins. Really attractive wine. 89/100 (£12.99 Naked Wines)

Rote Haus Wiener Gemischter Satz Classic Trocken 2009 Austria
12.5% alcohol. Very crisp, bright and minerally with lovely freshness and precision. Very pure citrus and grapefruit notes with great acidity. A lovely fresh, light white wine. 88/100 (£12.68 Naked Wines)

Kimbao by Garcia Schwaderer Cabernet Sauvignon Carménère 2009 Central Valley, Chile
14% alcohol. Very attractive sweet blackcurrant and dark cherry fruit here with good definition and just a hint of meat and tar in the background. Ripe but not jammy: simple yet delicious. 87/100 (£8.99 Naked Wines)

Brewery Hill Reserve Shiraz 2008 South Australia
14.5% alcohol. Ripe, full and nicely balanced with a spicy, savoury edge to the ripe blackberry and plum fruit. Sweet and rich but with nice tar and spice savouriness. A dense, boldly flavoured Aussie Shiraz. 87/100 (£11.99 Naked Wines)

Small and Small Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc Sylvia Reserve 2010 Marlborough, New Zealand
14% alcohol. Overtly green gooseberry and green pepper nose. Concentrated, rich, green herby palate with some tropical fruit richness. There’s fruit sweetness here. Lots of flavour impact; made in a seductive style. 87/100 (£13.99 Naked Wines)

11 comments to Six from Naked Wines

  • Hi Jamie, Good to hear your thoughts on this wine from Naked. I think we’re set for some exciting developments in the way wine is sold over the next few years and Rowan’s an interesting guy to follow.

  • Ian S

    A shame that they resort to such spurious price-loading & discounting. Not surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.

  • Alex Lake

    Agree with Ian. The dishonesty in the pricing model makes me very reluctant to buy from that outfit. If they had something I really, really wanted, then I would, but I guess I’m simply not their target demographic.

  • UK pricing of French wines is usually just a little cheaper than in Canada, where I live. I discovered Picpoul de Pinet a couple of years ago and loved it – and I gotta say GBP10 doesn’t seem too bad. I just checked on one of my notes from 2008 & I paid C$14.95 (GBP9.50). It’s an interesting & underrated white, so push the boat out & drop that extra 50p!

    (I bought Domaine Des Lauriers, but I doubt there’s much variation in producer pricing for Picpoul)

    And heck, with a 33% discount, it’d be well worth it! Even the other, more overpriced ones.

    Frankly who cares about false “reference pricing” (as it’s known in retail) if you then get a “discount”. The entire outlet mall model is built on this premise. Admittedly the fact that these are “own label” wines might give pause (ie, they might be the leftovers/bulk crap but from a good area), but Jaimie’s tasted & given the thumbs up.

    I’d order from them if I lived in England.

  • Skippy

    Apparently the 33% discount given to their ‘Angels’ is based on subscription – the ‘Angels’ pay a monthly subscription which I think is £20, and in return get 33% off the list price of the wine. The subscription fee goes to supporting small winemakers from around the world and giving them a route to market. Be interested to see just how many of their suppliers are small struggling wineries in need of financial support…. interesting business model I guess, and seems to have a certain section of the UK wine drinking public firmly on board.

  • Hi, I am one of “the small struggling wineries in need of financial support” mentioned above, and will be coming online at Naked Wines in the near future. I think the Naked Wines model is a great help to wineries like mine because 1) they pick up the wine Ex Cellar or FOB very near the cellar and deal with all the transport and logistics 2) they provide a way of interacting with my final clients. As far as prices are concerned, they SHOULD be very competitive as they have cut all the middle-men out and so should pass on savings to customers, no? The price paid to the producer is mutually agreed between NW and the producer and I certainly hope that both parties are content.
    I think the comments above: “…resort to such spurious price-loading & discounting” and “The dishonesty in the pricing model…” are out of order and/or the authors are misinformed, as the NW pricing policy is clearly and transparently explained on their website!

  • Skippy

    Really good explanation there Fabio, and I’m glad to hear that Naked provide such valuable support to your business. I was only questioning whether the model was good for the producer or not, and from your experience it seems nothing but positive, which is pleasing.

    Best of luck with the new listings.

  • Skippy, I can only hope that that will be the case, when I start working with them.
    In theory, the model is good for the producer (ie dealing with all the transport logistics that small wineries hate) and I like their committment to Social Media and facilitating contact between producer and consumer. I hope it all works out in practice too, and so far I’m happy and optimistic, having gotten nothing but good vibes from Rowan and his team.

  • Ian S

    Fabio
    I’m glad it works for you as a producer.

    As a customer, I’m left scratching my head as to whether the right price is the nominal ‘full price’ or the 33% off price?

    Price discounting is an ongoing issue in the UK market, with plenty of customers only buying wines (or other products) ‘on offer’, likewise many shops are pricing wines high, only to reduce down ‘on offer’. As customers we learn to doubt the ‘normal full price’ being anything other than a tool to make the reduced price more attractive. As Jamie said, the difference between the prices is the difference between him recommending or not recommending the wines.

    That is my criticism here.

    regards

    Ian

  • Ian S

    Fabio
    I will say the encouragment of contact between customer and winery is an interesting and potentially very positive approach. The only similar web contact I’ve seen in the past has been on infrequent ‘meet the winemaker’ events on wine forums. I’m sure Jamie will be following that side of things with interest!
    regards
    Ian

  • Looks like we agreed on several wines from Naked (and were probably inadvertently tasting them around the same time!).

    I especially liked the Brewery Hill here: http://wineblogforthefrugal.blogspot.com/2011/01/naked-wines-40-off-voucher-post-xmas.html and the picpoul and (unique) Small and Small Sylvia Reserve here: http://wineblogforthefrugal.blogspot.com/2011/01/naked-wines-closer-look.html

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