I wanted to start off this post with ‘the thing I love about wine tastings….’ but realised that I have only ever been to one and this one was it. For the uninitiated, it’s a little like an ale/beer/cider festival except there is a lot less liquid and a lot more talking about the thing being consumed.
Some people come and work around methodically, opting for all of the reds or a certain grape they like, others come and find ones they like and drink many samples to just be certain that they like it. Others are more about chatting to the winemakers and some are happy talking quietly to themselves.
Naked Wines have not only democratised wines and wine making, but also wine tasting events. A casual and informal atmosphere accompanied by lots of friendly winemakers and fellow wine enthusiasts made the whole experience one that I would quite happily rinse and repeat.
The ethos of Naked Wines is a little bit different from many other online wine retailers, and this is a lot to do with how they are funded. Naked Wine’s customers are called Angels, who pay £20 a month into their account towards future orders. This money then goes in to investment in to grapes, winery space, barrels, bottles and other costs. They help winemakers start-up and set the ball rolling for their own businesses, letting Naked Wine do the selling whilst they concentrate on making excellent wines for good prices. And what do the Angels get in return? Exclusive wines that you won’t be able to buy in the shops and the chance to meet the winemakers at tasting events like this one.
The tables were organised by country and each winemaker was willing to chat and talk about the wines, grapes and the processes behind the production. I learnt about white wine and red wine, grapes, soil, vineyards and the fact that you can’t actually drink all of the wines on offer or else you will disgrace yourself. I found that a lot of the wine was chucked in to the traps next to the tables, which I found near impossible to do so I left Tori to feed me sips of wine whilst she was able to tip the undrunk bits away (I know this is what happens at wine tastings but it was SO HARD!)
My highlight of the tasting was meeting Patricio Gouguenheim who was on hand with some of his stunning wines. He recommended we have a dry white before we taste his red wine, and was willing to chat and take the time to share his passion. The fact that he was happy to travel all the way from his vineyard in Argentina to talk his wine fans made me realise that the whole process that Naked Wines starts and finishes is just as much about the relationship between winemaker and winedrinker, than just the relationship between Naked Wines. There is a strong sense of community about the whole tasting, and you could see this in the way that winemakers interacted with the tasters which was nothing but friendly.
We tasted many many wines, but there were a few that stood out. A few that I would buy entire cases of had I the cash, the time to drink it and the space are the following:
1. Joost & Miguela de Villebois – Lestonnat Bordeaux Superieur 2012 – Loire Valley
This was a beautifully smokey red with liquorice and fruity notes. It reminded me of drinking a bonfire, kind of.
2. Patricio Gouguenheim – Melisa Malbec 2013 – Mendoza, Argentina
Naked Wines Angels offered £10,000 to Patricio to create a scholarship for his employees’ children, and Patricio made this wine to commemorate the first student to benefit from their generosity. A dry red that is a fantastic accompaniment to many meals.
3. Peter Klein – Klein Muskateller 2012 – Rhineland-Pfalz, German
The closest you could come to having an elderflower bush explode in your mouth. Beautifully sweet and drinkable. This was a definite favourite of the event for us. Peter has been nominated for Young German Winemaker of the Year, and its clear to see why!
The experience left a lasting memory, and to help here are some photos from the day.