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Naked Wines - specifically 'rescue fund' deals

Perhaps throwing myself to the wolves here, but curious for opinions…

I’ve never been a massive fan of Naked Wines. I find the wine in their standard mixed case offers (which my parents enjoy…) very bland and uninspiring. Very drinkable and generally pairs well with most food, but not much to intrigue me as a wine.

However I have succumbed to their marketing on occasion having purchased their ‘rescue fund’ mixed cases for both the Californian wildfires which ravaged vineyards in 2019 and a separate deal to support winemakers after the wildfires in Australia earlier this year. The Californian case was a mixed bag but some excellent wines and great value for money, the Australian one arrived this morning and looks also to be a mixed bag - some oddballs in there. I’ve been emailed an offer for a Spanish rescue fund deal earlier this week and wonder whether to go for it or not.

I also much prefer TWS’s tastings to the Naked wine ones. TWS’s offer feels much more intimate and the winemakers, when present, are friendly, less exhausted by gruelling schedules and seem more honest somehow? Can’t quite put my finger on it…

What are people’s experience of these ‘rescue fund’ deals and Naked Wines in general?

My main problem was that whenever the wines they offered (at the Angel price) were also stocked by other merchants, the other merchants prices were lower. Like Domaine Jones for example. Had a very good Vermouth from them.

I ended up bored by their main range. All seemed a bit ‘samey’ after a few years. I thought some of their En-Primeur-style offers were interesting (still got a couple of Spanish and Chilean bottles tucked away for later enjoyment) but there wasn’t much to keep me interested in between.

As @szaki1974 says, their prices, particularly the non-angel prices were not great by comparison.

I stopped giving them any morey when they announced they were selling off Majestic but have not regretted it one bit.

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Echoing this. I’m in Norwich where they are based, and back in the day I could find their “Exclusive” wines at other merchants in this same city, didn’t even have to go online. I hate ******** marketing. With that said a lot of people I know who aren’t really “into” wine get sucked into it, and if they enjoy the wines that’s good I guess? Not a fan of the owner either.

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I’m sorry, I haven’t heard about these rescue fund deals, nor am I inclined to find out more. I don’t want to deal with this company.

When they started they had the admirable concept of funding small producers in advance - sort of EP - with money taken from ‘angels’ who committed to paying a monthly wedge.

Such has been their success - not just here but also in other countries - that in order to supply wine to their members they’ve needed to source large quantities - more than half a dozen a barrels worth from a struggling winemaker.

I’ve seen winemakers named who are employed by large co-operatives, and a cynic might infer they are selling wines from large scale wineries under their own exclusive label.

Their prices are not competitive, the 'angel; price is around normal retail price, the non-angel price is ridiculous.

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Yes, their original concept was what hooked me. Now, however, the cynic in me might concur with many others as to how they arrive at their current offering.

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Also, from what ive heard, there has been pressure put on some wineries to produce wine which they don’t in fact want to and of a standard they would rather not but because of the renumeration the small wineries have no choice.

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Gave up on them long time ago, wines were VERY formulaic: young fruit forward, no terroir. Or ‘classic’ and overpriced, plus I hated the pricing /angel thing.

My quitting naked, coincided with joining TWS which is the opposite in all ways

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@szaki1974 and @Aaronb - I didn’t realise this re: lower prices elsewhere. That’s really shitty, especially considering the way they market their wines.

@Aaronb - why not a fan of the owner?

@peterm - I was curious about how scale had impacted on their relationships with small producers. One thing I love about TWS is the range of products from wineries of all different sizes, but I get the impression Naked just can’t do that in the same way with their business model, or at least using marketing to manipulate the perception of what’s in the bottle and who has made it…

This doesn’t surprise me. I went to a tasting a couple of Christmases ago and I didn’t get a good vibe from the winemakers who were present. It felt very much like it was to a script. I mean it was a massive event in a massive warehouse, but it didn’t feel very genuine and that always makes me curious about how the wine makers are treated…

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Amen to that. I’m trying to convince other friends and family to jump ship too, but, for many, I think Naked provides a really easy (and not very adventurous) model.

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I weaned my sister and her husband over to TWS (slightly guiltily as I’d told them about Naked a few years previously). Also convinced a friend to sign up instead of Naked this year (mainly by buying him a share).

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Above and Beyond!

(No doubt he gave you the £20 worth of free wine)

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Maybe next time I go and visit…

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Rowan Gormley. Entrepreneur, not a wine guy and was never in it for the wines or the people long term. Did a reverse takeover of Majestic and almost took them down. Eyes on global domination so it follows the wines will be commoditised.

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Frustrating, but inevitable I guess with the way the world is… I guess wine can be such a complex thing that it is easy, so very easy, to galvanise on people’s desire for simplicity. Not necessarily a bad thing, but should be done with honesty. With knowledge comes power!

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Just to add to the views on Gormley. I met him after he left Virgin Wines and was in the throes of setting up Naked (there are differing accounts of the Virgin departure). As others have stated he’s very much a money/marketing guy and doesn’t really like the product or the traditional approach to selling. I didn’t warm to him. The Naked reverse takeover of Majestic didn’t do them any favours and they seem to be on the up post-Gormley.

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Odd, that. There are also very different accounts about his departure from Majestic/Naked too. (“It’s all wonderful but someone else with a different skill set needs to grow it now”/“The financial losses look horrendous, time to jump or be pushed”).

I’ve never bought from Naked, but have had their wines. OK, but nothing special, as others have said. Maybe my experience is atypical as it is small sample. But I dislike the marketing, which leads you to think you are supporting some worthy, horny-handed son of the soil who - without your support - may not survive. Whilst co-incidentally boosting Naked’s cashflow.

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I’ve been a Naked member for a couple of years now. I never subscribe to mixed cases from anybody normally, because I think they’re wines they need to sell, not the wines I want to buy. My taste usually precludes me from buying on average 2 bottles of any 6 anyway. The good news is that if you don’t want their freebie giveaways, phone them up and tell them what you want (a bit less in price) and you’ll get it.

I agree, it’s now mainly a wacky marketing exercise, and there seems to be an increasing number of wines bottled in W1743 or W… at CH … or WF… or NR… or Germany. Cheap wine imported in tanks sold as great wines at higher prices but really quaffing only. Had this discussion with their nice people a year ago. Seems to be getting worse.
There are however some good wines to be had - if you’re quick - like the Stephen Miller’s Cab Sauv, Mat Parish’s Pinot Noir, and Rod Easthope’s Central Otago PN. Some of the Primitivos are also good wines.

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