Woman on Wine with Amy Reiley
As a wine writer, I’ve never felt the need to join a winery’s wine club or one of the many wine-of-the-month sort of deals cropping up on the internet at a staggering rate. I generally find my wines for articles from professional wine tastings, visits to wineries, digging around in the dusty back aisles of wine shops or from samples sent directly from the winery. But an advertisement for one wine club, Naked Wines, caught my eye; it even got me to click a link. And what I discovered is a bit of a wine industry game changer.
The Naked Wines program asks its members to basically become investors in the independent projects of some fairly notable winemakers. The members, called Angels, are required to invest $40/month that they can choose to spend whenever they want, on whatever wines in the Naked Wines collection that they want. The idea is that the members get better value for money. (They’re only paying for wine, not marketing, packaging or shelf space in a liquor store.)
I liked the concept and when I read through a list of participating winemakers, I became impressed. Names like Alessandro Botter, Daryl Groom and Wayne Donaldson jumped out at me immediately. And it inspired me to give this wine club a try. For those who don’t want to become an Angel, at least not yet, Naked Wines offers some interesting mixed cases and some great coupons and incentives. I ordered a mixed white case. The selection featured six varietals and seven different countries. Although I didn’t sign up to be an Angel, I used a coupon that basically gave me the Angel discount, bringing the price for my case of wine to less than $10/bottle, including shipping.
The wines were, for the most part, a little rough around the edges. They were far more experimental than the smooth, seamless products may of these winemakers produce in their “day” jobs. But then I think that’s part of the whole concept. Getting to taste something new, different, experimental from these guys is part of the charm. Although they were often a bit oddball and angular, I thoroughly enjoyed all but one of the wines and I would easily have bought most of them again and again. The were definitely some of the most interesting wines I’ve had for that kind of price. For anyone thinking about taking the dive into the wine club world, this is definitely a cool way to go. Here are some of the highlights of my tasting:
The tasting notes
2016 Lay of the Land Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
This wine is made by Mike Paterson, a New Zealand winemaker with a long history crafting Sauvignon Blanc. The Lay of the Land is a refreshing rendition of Marlborough SB with fat tropical fruit, cutting citrus acid and bitter herbs all in the right places. It offers notes of grapefruit zest, lime, passion fruit and honeydew and finishes clean with a lovely, fresh cut herb note.
2016 Arabella Reserve Chardonnay
South African winemaker Stephen de Wet is one of the most popular vintners in the Naked Wines family. His 2016 Chardonnay layers citrus, melon and toast. It’s a reasonably big wine—especially for the price—but it has a really nice balance of richness and racy acid.
2015 Tomas Buendia Verdejo and Chardonnay
Winemaker Tomas Buendia creates his wines in one of Spain’s least-known regions. This blend of Verdejo and Chardonnay comes from grapes grown in the northernmost part of Central Castile. And it is not quite like any other wine I’ve tasted. It is lovely, crisp and perfect for summer drinking.
2015 La Capatia Carneros Chardonnay
This wine is a collaboration between Dalia Ceja and Everardo Robledo. These young winemakers both grew up in Carneros and know the region’s grapes as well as any winemaking team could. I’ve know Dalia since long before she could legally drink so I was anxious to try this one and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s easy-drinking for Chardonnay, but it is definitely a wine made for food with lovely apple and pear flavors and a healthy injection of lime acidity.
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