Online wine retailer and membership club Naked Wines has made significant steps in improving and developing its range in the last few years. Buying director Matt Smith and wine director Ray O’Connor MW have continued to plug what they saw as key gaps in the range across various classical regions, such as Bordeaux, as they now look to introduce a broader set of wine styles to fulfil the tastes of new consumers.
The company uses a crowd-funding business model to fund production costs for winemakers across the world, providing its members, dubbed ‘Angels’, with exclusively made wine directly from its producers.
Scroll down for the top 25 buys from Naked Wines this summer
Reports of slowing sales
In a trading update statement from 4 July this year, Naked Wines announced that the release of its results for the financial year up to April 2023 had been delayed. In the same statement the company also reported that ‘sales in the first quarter of the financial year have been below expectations,’ and that this was due to reduced levels of new members.
Despite an increase in revenue and subscribers during the pandemic (from 260,000 to 350,000 in the UK), current UK membership numbers now sit at 330,000.
‘We haven’t been aggressively acquiring new customers recently,’ says Smith, ‘we’ve been focusing on providing an excellent experience to our members. Driving innovation, finding quality wines and spirits, broadening the range to a degree, plugging some gaps, and keeping things really interesting [for members].’
The business announced last week that previous CEO and founder Rowan Gormley, who stepped down at the start of 2020, is to return as the company’s new chairman. In a letter to investors, it said that the appointment aimed ‘to support the development of plans to drive profitable growth,’ and ‘to recruit new customers at a higher rate’.
Expanding the range
Since the Naked Wines autumn trade tasting last September, the retailer has ‘made good progress in filling in gaps in the range,’ says Smith, bringing in 19 new Bordeaux wines, as well as classical styles from the northern Rhône and Alsace.
Naked has long been strong in wines from eastern Europe, but last year bolstered the range with new producers from Greece – the list below highlights a Greek red and a white, both worth seeking out. ‘Greece has become our second fastest growing region across the range,’ adds Smith.
The wines below are perfect to see you through the summer months, from fresh and zesty whites to light and juicy reds. A few fuller-bodied reds were irresistible and just had to be included, too.
Highlights from the tasting include a gorgeous Godello, a delightful white blend from Katie Jones in the Languedoc, and Ramón do Casar’s super sophisticated oak-fermented Treixadura from Spain’s northwestern corner. On the red front, the light, juicy and slightly earthy Greek red blend from Oenops and the plush and silky Margaux from Dufort-Vivens offer two completely different but equally beguiling styles of red wine to try.
Green Grape logo
Naked Wines has recently launched its Green Grape logo, which is attached to wines that ‘go above and beyond to be kinder to our planet,’ according to the business.
The company employed Luke Landers two years ago as its head of sustainability and has made some headline-grabbing environmental commitments. For example the UK company saved 500 tonnes of glass in 2022, and as of summer 2023 has lightweighted 6.5 million bottles in an effort to cut its carbon emissions.
The Green Grape logo encompasses a ‘broad set of sustainability initiatives that we’ve grouped together…to make it easier for customers to make more sustainable choices,’ says Matt Smith, the company’s buying director.
Of the 600 wines in its range, 72 have been awarded the new logo.
Naked Wines displays both a member price and a non-member price for most wines on its website. All wines are benchmarked and tasted blind against similar wines available on the UK market. The non-member price is therefore determined by the retail price of these comparable wines – what Naked deems the market price. This can range from anywhere between 0% and 60% more than the Angel’s price, depending on what comparable wines they have been benchmarked against. Some wines on the site are ‘Angel exclusives’ and can only be purchased as a member.
But being a member doesn’t just get you reduced prices on the wines, it also provides a platform to engage and converse directly with the winemakers themselves. Through its online wine community, members rate wines and interact with winemakers, and their feedback ultimately decides whether Naked continues to sell the wines.
See tasting notes and scores for 25 top finds from Naked Wines:
The selection below includes both member-exclusive wines and wines available to non-members. Where the wine is exclusive to members, this has been indicated in the tasting note.