The internet is changing the way we work, think and play. In the wine world, there is a revolution taking place, breaking down traditional barriers in this age-old industry and offering consumers a sense of empowerment and involvement.
That is what Rowan Gormley, CEO of Naked Wines believes anyway. Gormley set up Naked in 2008 after working for Virgin Money and Virgin Wines. In the depths of the recession he had to offer something new.
“I had to come up with a game-changing model,” says Gormley. “To make a dent in a traditional industry, bypassing wine agency routes and competing with big players, I needed to bring the consumer and the winemaker together,” he says.
He asked customers to get directly involved with upfront funding by becoming Naked Angels. For a monthly payment of £20 or more they receive 25 to 50 per cent off the wines and the money is invested to fund new winemaking ventures to make wines sold at www.nakedwines.com
One region where this works well is in Napa Valley, as Californian wine prices in the UK are high. “When we saw that a Napa cabernet which retails at $50 costs just $10 to make and we could sell it for $15, we knew we had to get in at the ground level,” says Gormley. His new £5.5 million plan will invest in 22 winemakers in the USA and Australia.
Crucially the Naked enterprise invites consumers to play an active part in the buying and reviewing process. Gormley recently flew ten of them across the Atlantic to help him choose new wines.
Lorna Murray of Cockenzie was one of three “Archangels” from Scotland who travelled to California to help the Naked team.
“I first became an Angel because I liked the idea of getting quality wine at special prices and interacting online with winemakers on their forum – it felt altruistic,” says Murray, who with her fellow angels tasted more than 60 wines, of which six will be chosen to be sold in the UK.
“Naked has changed the way I buy wine,” says another Angel, Martin Greaves.
“I used to shop in supermarkets, but I was often disappointed by their half-price wines. At Naked I feel I get better value and I am now getting passionately involved myself,” he says.
France: Champagne Moutard Grande Cuvee Brut NV
(£27.99, or £18.99 for Naked Angels)
Deep, rich, creamy pinot noir dominant fizz from the Aube – a good deal at the Angel price.
Spain: Verdejo Herbis 2011 Frank Massard
(£9.49, or £6.99 for Naked Angels)
Naked’s newest winemaking recruit makes this dry, peachy, zesty greengage-flavoured aperitif.
Argentina: Dramatis Personae 2010 Bodegas Argenceres
(£11.49, or £8.49 for Naked Angels)
A hefty, succulent, ripe berry palate blend of malbec/ cabernet/bonarda with a mean bitter sweet twist to the finish.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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