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Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Tasting of Naked Wines‏

It's been a while since I reviewed any wines from Naked, but the lovely Fran who oversees the company's PR got in touch and asked if I would like to try some of their new wines with colleagues.

I suggested that a general mix of wines would work well for a tasting, but left it to her to do the final selection.

What arrived a few days later was a fizz, three whites, three reds and a dessert wine and whilst some of the producers were familiar to me, a number were new additions to the Naked portfolio.

For the tasting, I organised a straightforward buffet of salamis, various cheese, bread and olive oil and started by explaining how Naked's business model is heavily based on the concept of choice architecture as put forward in Nudge.

From a standing start in 2008, the company has gained 200,000 customers, most of whom are Angels, with a "house style" of wines that are well-made, unashamedly populist crowd-pleasers.

The first of the wines was a Sachetto Prosecco - with good ripe cox's apple and pear fruit.

This, like most of the wines, was generally well-liked, with just a few dissenters finding it rather one dimensional or lacking in finesse (which I take to be more of an opinion on Prosecco in general rather than on this specific wine).

Next was a Californian Chardonnay, the Angels Reserve from F Stephen Millier, which was ripe with good orchard fruit, good acidity and balanced, creamy oak.

This was again well-liked with people comparing it vary favourably to the over-oaked, overly sweet style of New World Chardie that led to a backlash and the rise of kiwi SB and the now ubiquitous Pinot Grigio.

We followed this with, perhaps slightly out of order, a Loire Sauvignon from Villebois; aromatic and herbaceous on the nose, it has crisp acidity and minerality.

It perhaps suffered coming after the (gently) oaked Chardonnay, but went very well with some creamy goat's cheese.

The final white was a Pinot Gris from New Zealand's Classic South - with floral spice on the nose, it is very much an Alsation-style PG.

Big, rich and fat on the palate, it would match perfectly with a tarte flambee spiced with nutmeg.

The first of the reds was a 2006 Rioja Reserva from Carlos Rodrigez. It spends 12 months in oak, giving just the right amount of vanilla spice, but also preserving a lot of the fruit characteristics.

With aged brick red hints and a pale rim, it is showing some signs of age and feels wonderfully soft and mellow.

This wine proved very popular with colleagues for its oaky vanilla spice, bramble and cherry fruit and mouthfilling texture.

Next up was a Lirico Argentinian Malbec from Maurizio Lorca which proved to be rather more restrained and textured than I was expecting.

This wine was a little less well-received than the Rioja, perhaps because it had less instant appeal, but for me was the best of the reds and perhaps the best wine of the evening.

I also thought it proved an exception to Paola Tich's theory that Argentinian Malbecs tend to be like Essex Girls - fundamentally attractive, but overly made-up to the point where the natural beauty gets lost.

The final red was a mixture of select parcels (otherwise known as leftovers) from Australia's Brewery Hill, named Assemblage.

With prominent juicy acidity, low tannins and simple ripe cherry fruit it was reminiscent of a Languedoc red but was not so well received after the complexity of the Rioja and Malbec.

The final wine was a Moscato - a light sparkler with just 7% alcohol and some residual sugar.

With lots of floral Muscat aromas and refreshing lemon-lime acidity, it is a perfect match for a summer fruit pudding or an Eton Mess.

Recommended Wines

All these wines are very much in Naked's house style of well-made crowd-pleasers, but for me the best white was the rich, perfumed Alsatian-style Pinot Gris from Small and Small, whilst the best red was the Lorca Malbec.


Naked Wines - http://www.nakedwines.co.uk/

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