Both are produced by the SAAM Mountain Vineyards in Paarl, South Africa and come with a £4.99 price tag. At least £1 from the sale of each bottle of wine will be spent by Comic Relief to give disadvantaged people in the UK and Africa a helping hand to turn their lives around. SAAM Mountain Vineyards, created in 2007, compises 40 South African growers who farm vineyards that streatch between Paarl to the Durbanville Hills. Bottled in the UK the wines come in lightweight clear glass bottles, making for easier recycling. Approximately 735,768 bottles of Red Nose Wines have been produced.
Wine Tasting Note: Comic Relief Red Nose Day Red , 2008, Paarl, South Africa
Stockist: Widely Available Price: £4.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Think brawny, robust and sturdy but with a contradictory lightness. Think blackberry stains, fingers pricked by brambles plus a dribble of red, crunchy fruits on the finish. Drinkable, attractive, pleasing on the palate and well worth throwing a fiver at. Alcohol 14%. A Pinotage Shiraz blend.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 88/100
Wine Tasting Note: Red Nose Day White , 2008, Paarl, South Africa.
Stockist: Widely available Price: £4.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Prickly on the palate, fresh, clean and prim on the nose. Crisp and long lasting pear flavours, with a green tanginess to the flavour. Very good sherbet, slightly confected, finish. Quite full but with a lightness of touch via a pea-green twist on the finish. Again good value.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 88/100
The website (please read the full review) has the innovative idea of linking each wine producer direct to the consumer via a 'Winemakers Wall'. Revolutionary? Perhaps, but it is simply taking Web2.0 and applying it to a retail website.
A recent purchase from Domaine Cristia, a Southern Rhone producer, raised a few queries - grape composition of the three wines brought for example. The ideal material to enquire about, via their 'wall'.
Domaine Cristia did reply to my questions, a transcript is below as, annoyingly, the Naked Wines website is not designed for direct linking. Abundantly clear to me the power this gives in extending the 'conversation' (direct contact between wine producer and final consumer) and raises the question of how many others will replicate the idea and offer such an experience to their end users?
→ I just enjoyed (and blogged http://www.spittoon.biz/domaine_cristia_from_naked_win.html about) three of your wines. Just out of interest what is the grape composition in each? Do you own all your own vineyards (size?) or buy in grapes from other growers?
Thanks Andrew for your comments on spittoon.biz Now I am going to answer your questions... Vin de Pays Grenache is ... 100% Grenache! Cairanne is 60% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre Gigondas is 75% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre and 10% Cinsault
Yes, we propose Naked wines 3 other wines, and I must say that they are my favourite Vacqueyras 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 15% Mourvèdre is powerful, very aromatic and suave Rasteau is 70% Grenache and 30% Mourvèdre, also very suave and onctuous As you wrote, the Cristia Collection wines do not come from our vineyards (Domaine Cristia). But each come from one specific property, it is not a blend of different growers. We know all of them, and their philosophy of vine working is what pleases us, their "earth friendly" approach of their terroir...
Our own estate (Domaine de Cristia) is 21 hectares in totality. We produce mainly Châteauneuf-du-Pape, along with Côtes-du-Rhône and Vin de Pays. Concerning the 2006 CDP, it's made of 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre
Andrew, if you have any other question, please go on asking... Very enjoyable to read comments and opinions of wine lovers such as you.
All three demonstrated a similarity of style - a house style if you will - forward fruit, crowed-pleasing drinkability and a ripe, up-front fruitiness.
Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Cristia Vin de Pays Grenache, 2007, Vin de Pays Des Portes de la Méditerranée, Southern Rhône.
Price: £7.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Not an overly complex aroma but a highly attractive palate - upfront sweetness, rounded and smooth with a hint of tannin and a balancing acidity. Good herb, spice and hints enlivens a plumy richness of flavour. Smooth and drinkable enough to slurp without food - it is that richness and sweetness helping it all along but there is enough weight to accompany food. Attractive. Alcohol 13%.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 90/100
Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Cristia Cairanne, 2007,Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne, Southern Rhône, France.
Price: £10.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
The least successful of the trio. Pleasant enough and again demonstrating the ranges' sweet-fruited drinkability but lacking a little 'zing' and complexity to make it stand out. Hints of ink, a smidge of ink and plenty of blackberry fruit give the palate weight and some interest. Perhaps a little young still.
A blend of "Shiraz, Grenache & Other Spicy Reds". Alcohol 15%.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 86/100
Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Cristia Gigondas, 2007, Rhone, France
Price: £13.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Very similar in style to the Grenache - an inherent, smooth richness that makes for high 'drinkability'. More spice on the flavour but a little lighter in style with a longer lasting flavour. Spicy, leathery touches - another good sign of a perfect roast lamb match. Lovely flavours of red fruits mixed with blackberries, elderberry, a leatheriness, a strawberry edge and a dusting of spice. Alcohol 15%.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 92/100
There are three other wines available from this Domaine - Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2006 (£19.99), Rasteau 2007 (£10.99) and a Vacqueyras 2007 (£10.99). The Naked Wines website actually says little about the domaine, apart from the Chateauneuf gaining a high Parker score. I'd like to know where the domaine is, the size of the estate, if they buy in grapes from other growers and the specific grape composition in each wine. I'll just have to send a question to the wine makers...
Bibendum have grasped the social media by the short and curlies as tasters across the country joined in a large group of novice and more expert wine tasters to twitter over three wines.
I've pinched the video above from documentally - who was highly entertaining host for the event.
Thanks also to The Wine Conversation for organising it all; his thoughts on the event (including the same video) are on his wesite but the basics are 300 tweets in the 45 or so minutes which overtook tweets on Obama for a short time. Next time how about streaming the tweets to a large screen display in the main tasting hall for more exposure?
One issue I discovered was that entering my tasting notes via a mobile is limiting as it is impossible to view direct replies or responed to others questions and tweets, thus limiting the 'conversation'.
The three wines tasted were:
- Delicato Old Vine Zinfandel 2006
- Dinastia Vivanco Crianaza Rioja 2005
- Laurenz V Friendly Gruner Veltliner 2007
An interesting selection that introduced many to Gruner Veltliner for the first time.The Delicato was well received for its easy drinking, rich, quality while the Rioja, with its savoury, tomato quality stood out for many as the star.
Twitter Taste Live. The beauty of this sort of tasting is its reach. Sets of 3 samples (Delicato Old Vine Zinfandel, Laurenz V Friendly Gruner Veltliner and Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Crianza) have been sent to keen Twitterers around the UK. At 4pm they will taste in unison with a team of assorted food and wine bloggers (including Food Stories, Eat like a Girl, Cheese & Biscuits, Dinner Diary, Spittoon, Wine Conversation) gathered at the Saatchi Gallery. Using Twitter, they will post all their notes, comments, suggestions and questions to a central Twitter Taste Live page. Anyone is free to sign up and follow this tasting live.
All the 'tweets' are also simultaneously posted on the Twitter home pages of all the participants and their 'followers' (who will follow the proceedings on their blackberries, iphones, laptops etc.). Some Twitterers have 200 followers, whereas others like Loudmouthman and Documentally have as many as 2500. "
Not yet a twitter follower? Hows-about joining one of my 790 odd followers.
Read More on The Wine Conversation.
Wine Tasting Note: Paul Autard Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2007, Rhone, France
Stockist: Bibendum (link to 2006 vintage) Price: £26 approx [More on Adegga / Snooth]
The colour of Valerian's blood-soaked Imperial cloak; the aroma of dusty, sun-lashed dark red fruits, subdued, reticent but harbouring hints of greater complexity that will come with age. Tannins as rough as a barbarians beard but the richness and strength of flavour smoothers them initially into a palate as smooth as Celopatras bossom.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 94/100
The 2006 vintage is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre; going further to demonstrate my favourite red blends begin with Grenache...
"Jean-Paul Autard is a classic artisan French vigneron and one who is blessed with the talent to make exceptional wines. Everything Jean-Paul does shows a respect for tradition, terroir and, above all, quality. His 30ha are split half and half between Chateauneuf and some very superior Cotes du Rhone vineyards which lie just over the appellation border. He is without doubt one of the rising stars of the Rhone."
The adverts were created by the New York McCann Erickson agency for GoldStar beer in Tel Aviv, Israel.
As with most pictures on Spittoon, clicking the image will open a pop-up full version.
Wine Tasting Note: Le Roc du du Chateau Pellebouc, 2006, Bordeaux, France
Stockist: Bordeaux Undiscovered Price: £8.75 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Smooth, rounded, nicely textured. A blend of Merlot (90%) 'for its roundness and balance' plus a little Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) 'to add to the body'. Deeply coloured with flavours of red fruits plus hints of spice. None of that tart, hollow, dusty-dryness you can find in cheaper Bordeaux reds - this has good fruit, a firm structure and lends itself nicely to the food in question; very nicely in fact.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 88/100
Le Roc du Château Pellebouc comes from the Entre deux Mers, just a few miles away from the Saint Emilion appellation. Château Pellebouc is owned by Pascale and Baudouin Thienpont - members of the famous wine making family who own Le Pin and manage several other top flight châteaux.
This is a proper bacon sandwich - three rashers enclosed by the freshest bread possible. Nothing added bar the obligatory tomato ketchup. No floppy lettuce leaves, no runny fried egg (as good as the addition of an egg can be) and certainly no manky cheese. The bacon will be crisp and salty wit the soothing ketchup adding just a hint of tomato flavour. As it is breakfast a not-too-heavy wine is required. I turned to one region I seldom venture - Beaujolais.
Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Dupré Haute Ronze Régnié , 2007, Beaujolais, France.
Stockist: Oddbins (small parcel) Price: £9.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
It's Gamay; a Cru Gamay admittedly but a wine that is never going to slap you across the chops with forcefulness or complexity. What you have is a light(ish) red vibrantly young in colour with a splash of acidity and pleasant level of tannin. Pleasantly fruity and a delight when up against the salty bacon in the delicious sandwich. It even manages to cut through the tomato ketchup with ease.
You can probably realise I'm not hugely impressed - but that is the way it is with Beaujolais in general. Light, fruity and sorta nice. Alcohol 12.5%. A breakfast wine.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 86/100
We are here to help you find delicious, blow-your-socks-off, dazzling wines at sensible, affordable prices. And to make friends with the delightful people who make these wines."
Naked Wines launched 1st December 2008, established by Rowan Gormley, founder of Virgin Money and Virgin Wines (from whom 17 of Naked Wines staff were also poached), with the aim of offering small, low-production wines from winemakers who lack the financial and physical means to market their wines. The link between these 'maverick, artisan winemakers' and the final user/drinker plays through the site as does the idea of being a 'facebook for wine lovers'.
The idea of, as they describe it, traditional 'bicycle saddle, raspberries and cigar box' tasting notes are an anathema to 'normal' wine drinkers, something I think practically every merchant has decreed to move away from. So expect notes such as "Classic Rioja...velvety smooth, soft and round as an opera diva" and "Imagine our delight when, having picked this beauty from a line up of 30 NZ Sauvignons...We discovered it was also the cheapest!"
It is not totally clear but there are two ways in which to buy wines from the site. There is the 'traditional' way - find a wine and buy it (minimum purchase 6 different bottles, mixed cases available or make your own) and there is the 'Naked Angle' way.
Several producers have offered six of their wines for free (actually you have to pay duty and the delivery charge), by ordering these free wines you also agree to pay £5 per month to the site. This in turn guarantees a 33% cash-back on future purchases using the saved, regular payment money or you can use the money banked against other wines.
I have a couple of issues with the design of the website - you can't for example link direct to producer pages and you have to page through each and everyone (which is annoying if you commit to one and then have to scroll through every one again to get back to where you were initially). Disconcertedly the winemakers page scrolls right to left while the wines page goes from bottom to top.Web 2.0 The idea of user submitted reviews of wines has been around for many years; big retailers such as Virgin and Oddbins already utilise such mechanisms, although I'm not sure if anything totally negative is ever allowed.
Naked Wines have a similar idea but have taken it further into the 'social' web2.0 world enabling a users page to be saved to such sites as Delicious, FaceBook and Stumbleupon. A users page (either private or public) allows user written reviews and ratings (on a 1-5 scale) for each wine ordered. 'Chatting' between other users and to the winemakers plays a part in the site but this is an area notoriously tricky to gain much traction.
Each producers page displays the conversations between user and winemaker. Dominique (one of the winemakers whose wines I purchased) used one such conversational opportunity to explain how one of their wines can improve for several years following on from a users query. (At least one user has taken the naked thing a touch too far though!)
Each user also has an 'entourage', I assume like on other social websites a list of 'friends', and also assume that this option opens up once a tasting note is posted.
The Wines and Producers
Today there are 29 winemakers listed, offering a rather small range of 82 wines. Coverage ranges from the lesser French regions, through several Spanish domains and down to Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. (Nothing from North America or Italy I note). Not all participate in the free wine offer and it is not very clear where each is based. (So guys how about adding a flag or country name in the Naked Angles column next to each winemaker?) I would also like to see the total number of wines each producer is currently offering.
The producers free offerings could also do with more information - OK, so you are getting six wines but which ones exactly? Of the 12 wines (two lots of six from two different producers) I ended up with 8 different wines, the cheapest I assume was doubled up in one lot while 4 bottles in the second were all the same (rather than two bottles of each as one would expect).
My order - six wines from Dominique and Baptiste Grangeon, (winemakers in the Rhone, described by The Wine Advocate as the 'New superstars from Châteauneuf-du-Pape') and six from Cinstranza Schwaderer in Chile came to £26.65 (2 x £10.83) plus delivery at £4.99. I haven't worked out the full, normal, retail price.
The web2.0 aspects are superb; who cannot enjoy the direct interaction between the winemaker and the final consumer. Website design niggles apart the idea is great. I'd sign up to be a 'naked taster' but they want 'regular' wine drinkers, not wine buffs. Perhaps the wines aren't that good? I'll find out over the next few days as I delve into my order.
"Although we have an extensive range of the world's finest wines, I am very proud of the amount of outstanding wines we stock under twelve pounds. It was tough work deciding what to leave out as the quality of wine at this price range has come on leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, as standards continue to improve every year. This is great news for an independent wine retailer like Jeroboams as it means we can offer a more varied portfolio and be confident of the quality of the wines."
It was in the depths under Milroy's in Soho that myself and man-about-town Mr Blyde wandered for a wine tasting back in October. I should apologise for the briefer-than-usual tasting notes; the palate was fading somewhat after a morning food and wine tasting across town - and the effects of alcohol shouldn't be ignored either.
Manging to slurp and sniff twenty of the 66 wines open, the following received more than a VG in the margins of the tasting note booklet. [Another Jeroboam's wine that is highly recommended is the Cellar Cal Pla Mas D'En Compte Blanco]
Wine Tasting Note: Diemersdal Eight Rows Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Durbanville, South Africa.
Stockist: Jeroboams Price: £11.95 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Another wonderful vibrant aroma - cut grass. Full, a touch of sweet richness, and a delicacy to the palate.
Wine Tasting Note: Loggia della Serra Terredora Greco di Tufo, 2007, Campania, Italy.
Stockist: Jeroboams Price: £13.75 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Lovely golden hue, palate is really special - honeyed, rounded but with a delicious dryness, citrus, long lasting.
Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Pierre Gaillard, Cotes du Rhone Blanc Les Gendrines, 2006, Rhone, France.
Stockist: Jeroboams Price: £16.00 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
An absolute dream of a wine - Viognier - oranges, orange rind, sweetness to the aroma, superb complex palate, great length.
Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Vincent Paris Granit 30°, 2006, Cornas, Rhone, France
Stockist: Jeroboams Price: £22.00 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
A dark, rich wine strawberry and cherry abound. A superb structure and floral touches to the spicy, black fruit-rich palate. The number refers to the incline of the steep slope of granite on which the grapes are grown; there also being a 60° bottling.
Wine Tasting Note: Domaine Le Cazal Le Pas de Zarat, 2004, Minervois, France.
Stockist: Jeroboams Price: £11.95 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
The star red of the tasting (so impressive that I believe my tasting companion purchased a bottle after). Really beautiful complex fruit on nose and palate - leather, herbs, wild black fruits. Superb.
A touch of class here - from the blossom and wax aroma through to the 'tinged with the exotic' palate. A combination of softness, a gentle rounded mouthfeel with a complex wax and citrus burst on the finish. Dry. That citric burst finality comes complete with a hint of herb and a gravelly texture.
The wax references are courtesy of the Semillon component in the wine, the addition of which also tempers the forcefulness of the majority Sauvingon adding a touch of richness along the way. The blend, for those like me fascinated by such wine geekery, is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. Alcohol 13.5%.
[ out of 5] Scribblings Rating - 90/100
Is there also a hint of tarragon in the wine or is that just the mouth-watering aromas eminating from the kitchen? For Bordeaux Undiscovered recommend M de Malle Graves with chicken in a Tarragon Sauce to accompany. Rather than frying chicken breasts a hole poisson, stuffed with fresh tarragon was roasted and served with a sauce of chicken stock, roasting juices and Dijon mustard. A delicious match.
Nick Stephens, MD of Bordeaux Undiscovered, has a great report on the company blog of Chateau de Malle (an actual Chateau dating from the 17th century, more famous perhaps for its Sauternes and Italian style gardens rather than its white wines) in addition to the recipe details.
Not a great crime you would have thought but coupled with a really abysmal memory and disaster befalls my blog-writing regular-like. Coupled with an hereditary inability to ever find anything - before, after or during regular 'tidying up ' sessions and you may wonder how I struggle under the weight of shame and guilt to lift head-from-pillow every morning.
I've just discovered a rather well written intro to a blog post, scribbled on the back of a brown envelope. The witty and, dare I suggest, sophisticated missive references two superb sounding wines (one from Argentina, the other South African) but sadly fails to mention any specifics - like name or grape variety. The crumpled edge of the envelope has a paper clip attached... I am wondering where said 'attachment' is though...
I have attempted everything to become more organised. From designing and printing tasting note sheets and clipping them to a Muji clipboard (that could only hold 10) to using variously sized notebooks which were either too small or two cumbersome to manage at tastings. I had an eleastic band looped round one, quite well used, suitably sized, note book which held everything of import written for Spittoon over a period of several months. And then lost the book.
I even confused the 'bottles for photographing box' with the 'empties for recycling box' and now have a stack of picture-less wines to grace my graphic heavy website. Poor show indeed.
Bottles are currently lined up on a secondary table, 12 in number and all awaiting a write up on Spittoon. I have the notes and several references to the food match. But can I recall what half the foods were? Can I buggery. An attempt to match stored photos of food with each wine has just wasted a fruitless hour with three possibles and two no-shows. Some were sampled several months back; and as I can't even recall what I had for dinner last Thursday recollections from the dim and distant are simply hopeless.
The problem is exasperated by the sheer number of samples I have to write-up. In addition to the 12 there are four more empties downstairs and two whites in the fridge.
My wine tasting note hieroglyphics in use at trade tastings convert just weeks after the event into ancient Sumerian cuneiform of a type that even Mr I Jones would decree to be indecipherable (and they made so much sense on the train journey home!)
My new years resolution is, therefore, to become more organised, to write complete notes at the time of tasting and not relying on a 'yep, I'll remember that when I come to complete the write-up'. I resolve therefore to only have two 'to report' bottles waiting at anyone time and not to broach any further bottles until they have reached the pages of Spittoon. I'm sure I resolved something very similar last year... only I can't remember back that far.