Friday, November 19, 2010

Naked Wines Domaine Cristia Grenache Syrah 2009

Surely you've heard of Naked Wines? You know the company set up by ex-Virgin Wines employees whose marketing vouchers fall out of everything you buy?

The idea behind the company is simple - they invest in new winemakers in return for preferential prices, and pass the savings on to the customer. If you become a 'Naked Angel', you can pay a chosen amount into your Naked Wines account on a monthly basis, and then redeem it anytime you wish (or take it out). When you do make a purchase, you get 33% cash back.

Several months ago I received one of their vouchers (something like £40 off), and decided to have a look - they were new and their concept sounded interesting. I created an account, but after looking at their website and checking out the wines and the prices, I was unconvinced. There were several mistakes in the website (i.e. Argentine wines showing up in the Australia section) and the general lack of information about the wines an winemakers put me off. This gives the impression that this whole business is a family-like affair, where the customer, winemaker and the business are this one big close-knit group. If that were the case, surely this information would be readily available?

Either way, I left it alone for awhile until yesterday when I received an email with an offer to buy a taster pack of six wines and only paying for the tax and the delivery. It amounted to about £18, at which price I don't really care if the wines are any good. Also, it gives me a chance to try them out and see what this place is all about.

The first wine I tried is this Grenache/Syrah blend from what is I think the Southern Rhone. First of all, it tastes like it, and after some digging on the Naked Wines website it turns out that the same winemaker also makes Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Why is this information not there with the wine? Here is what appears when you click the wine, and then the link labelled 'The Facts':

Style: Easy drinking reds
Grape: Shiraz, Grenache & Other Spicy Reds
Country: France
Alcohol: 13.00%
Vintage: 2009
Size: 75cl

You only find out where the winemaker is from when you click the 'Meet the Winemaker' link. Of course, this wine still could be from anywhere according to the label on the bottle, which just says 'Vin de France'. No appellation, nothing. One can only assume it's a Vin de Pays, which is fine but why not tell us the region and classification?

So how is the wine? It tastes like an entry-level Cotes du Rhone. It's not too bad - it has quite good fruit but it also has some roughness to it. Better with food. Someone left a comment on the Naked Wines website saying it needed to breathe for an hour, and I'd say there were right - it takes the edge off this young wine, and opens up the fruit.

I'd say the price is too expensive as well. It goes for £7.99. I'm not saying it's overpriced for a VdP, after all it could just be a VdP because they used too much of some grape variety, or the vines aren't in the right location for an AOC wine. I'm saying it's too much for what the wine is. Considering you could get a Guigal CdR for £6 on offer in Waitrose, why would you buy this for £8, and pay delivery on top?

I have 5 more bottles to try - hopefully I get the time to blog them all. To be honest they all look like potential plonk - an Aussie Shiraz (from the ubiquitous South Eastern Australia region), a Chilean Merlot, an Argentine Sauvignon Blanc, a South African Chenin Blanc, and a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. However I'll try to be objective with all of them. After all, I think the only thing wrong with the Domaine Cristia is the price.

Naked Wines
Domaine Cristia
Grenache Syrah 2009
VdP Rhone (I think), France

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