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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Two Reds from Naked Wines - South Africa and Portugal‏ (and Lot18 UK)

At the end of a very challenging week in the day job, not being able to get to the Wines of South Africa braaiday lunch and tasting last Friday due to yet another very sudden, very heavy downpour was mildly disappointing to say the least.

It was held at a restaurant a mere five minutes' walk from my office and the stream of excitable tweets from fellow bloggers who'd made it there was as relentless and depressing as the rain.

I decided to make up for it by keeping the theme South African with an Arabella Shiraz from Naked Wines for dinner that evening.

Naked Wines have been hugely successful as a business since their launch a mere 4 years ago. Reports that Lot18 UK (another internet only wine retail start-up) have closed down operations after just 4 months throw Naked's success into sharp relief.

Lot18's press release blamed the supermarkets in a somewhat huffy parting shot - but that's a bit like blaming the wind for blowing or the rain for falling.

I don't know the details, but clearly Lot18 failed to find a commercially-robust strategy in this country (they are faring somewhat better in the US) and I can't help again drawing a comparison with Naked Wines' founder Rowan Gormley - a savvy, commercial, entrepreneurial finance guy.

Arabella Shiraz, 2011, South Africa - £8.49 / £6.25 for Angels

After a long week at work, an uncomplicated, ripe, fruit-driven quaffer was exactly what I needed - the oenological equivalent of burger and chips or the sausage and mash that we served it with.

Lots of sweet, sunshine-filled plummy fruit, hints of spice and liquorice and a slap of leather on the finish.

Balanced and ripe - pleasant acidity and soft tannins. Top-end fruit appeal without any bottom-end complexity, it's a well-brought-up girl-next-door of a wine.

Friendly and pleasant to have around, reliable and well-behaved; won't challenge or thrill you too much; pretty much what its IWC commendation says about it.

Montaria 2010, Alantejano, Portugal - £9.99 / £7.49 for Angels

With that bottle gone, we picked out another from Naked - a Montaria 2010 from Alantejano in Portgal.

Made from the native Trincadeira plus Aragonez (Spain's Tempranillo) and the less well-known Alicante Bouschet grapes, it displays the Naked house-style qualities of being extremely pleasant and balanced.

There are touches of Portuguese typicity - red and black cherry fruit, some roughed-up herbs and eucalpytus, prominent acidity. But the tannins, which are so often a touch astringent in Portuguese wines, owe more to Naked's preference for gentle softness than to their country of origin.

Less full-on New World in style, this is not as quite as ripe and sweet as the Arabella and the texture improves with air by the following day when the left overs (plus a second bottle) match well with a roast beef dinner.

Well-made, reliable, perfectly ripe, enjoyably crowd-pleasing wines for easy quaffing - is it any wonder Naked has been such a success story ?


Naked Wines - http://www.nakedwines.co.uk/
Arabella Wines - http://www.arabellawines.com/

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