A look at Naked Wines
Not long ago, my father-in-law sent me a voucher for $100 off a case from Naked Wines that he’d received in one publication or other. A Benjamin off a case? A name that already makes me feel like a cousin? Sure, I’ll bite. I wondered what the catch might be, but what’s the worst that can happen? I plopped myself down, opened up the ol’ browser and got to work.
(In case you’re wondering … no, the worst didn’t happen.)
Naked Wines is an interesting online “wine club” of sorts. Rather than the typical wine club model, where a customer receives a shipment every so often, paying along the way, Naked Wines works on an escrow model. The process goes something like this: If you become one of the “Naked Angels” club members, you agree to put $40 each month into an account with them. You then can use this money at any point to purchase a quantity of wine via their website.
According to the site, the idea is to fund independent winemakers. In return, the club member receives wholesale pricing on the wines on the site, most of which are exclusively sold through Naked Wines. Seems like a good setup, potentially. (Although if the wines are generally not available for retail purchase, there’s no retail middleman to cut out in the first place … but I digress.) The discounts can be quite steep. The most expensive wine on the site retails for $75, but club members get it for $30. Club members also get $1 sample bottles with each case and free tastings if you’re lucky enough to visit one of these wineries.
You don’t have to become a Naked Angel to order from the site, though. You can use a voucher, as I did, or you can use a Groupon when one becomes available. You just pay the retail price, less whatever your voucher’s good for.
I decided to order one of their mixed cases – the “All-American Highest-Rated Wines” selection. This case retailed for $165, with an “Angel Price” of around $100. Still, $65 for a case of wine is a deal I’ll take. I have to give them high marks for promptness. The wine arrived within a week. Over the course of a month or so, we worked our way through the various bottles. Here are the highlights:
Da Da Da 2011 Lodi Chardonnay – I thought this was a very nice wine, especially for the price. It’s very light bodied for a California chardonnay. I thought it was relatively refreshing, flavor-wise, with a restrained bit of oak. I also don’t expect a lot of mineral character from California wine, but this sure had some. ($10; Club price, $6)
Da Da Da 2011 Lodi Merlot – Like its white cousin, the Merlot is also well-constructed. This isn’t a fruit bomb by any stretch of the imagination. It gives you pretty firm, balanced tannins with ample amounts of blackberry on the palate. I found leather flavors throughout and a very dry, lasting finish. A well-balanced, not overly heavy concoction. ($10; Club price, $6)
Cockamamie 2011 Calaveras County Syrah – For a California syrah, this one’s made in a fairly lean style. Good flavors of dark fruit with a layer of graphite on the finish. Although it is relatively light in body for a syrah, it hangs in through the finish reasonably well. At least I thought it did when I opened it. I had some left over, and I remembered liking it much more the first day. When I tried it the second time, I wasn’t overly impressed. ($25; Club price, $15)
Matt Iaconis 2010 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir – This pinot wants to be earthy. It ends up more on the smoky end of things and it’s a decent drinking wine. It’s not out of this world as a pinot (especially considering the pinots that we’ve laid in from Oregon), but it’s certainly a nice choice for a food-friendly red that you can serve with a quality meal. ($24; Club price, $14)
William Henry 2012 California Riesling – This wine absolutely needs some air, but once it gets a few spins in the glass and a warms a tad, the nose really changes from green apples and flint to melon and honey. The nose belies the body, which actually has very little fruit to speak of other than little bit of lemon backed with a whole lot of mineral, which follows on the finish almost to the point of being metallic. It’s certainly an interesting wine. On its own, I don’t know if it would be for everyone. I liked it well enough. I had the rest of the bottle with a New Orleans barbecue shrimp – and it was downright tasty. ($11; Club price, $6.50).
For more information about Naked Wines, visit nakedwines.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Rosenberg at MikeRosenberg@DaytonCityPaper.com or visit his blog at www.TheNakedVine.net