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Ryan O’Connell, part of an American family winemaking team that lives and makes wine in France, recently brought my attention to, a customer funded wine business. Customers, so-called “Naked Angels,” fund independent winemakers in return for exclusive access to wines at wholesale prices (40%-60% discounts plus free wines included in orders). Naked Angels invest $40 a month that is used to spend on any of the over 280 offered wines. Every wine has a 100% money back guarantee.

Launched in 2008, now has over 200,000 Naked Angels investing in their Naked Piggy Bank accounts. Currently, the Naked Angels are a closed group, but one can put their name on a waiting list through the website at

Naked Angels have invested over $38 million in more than 130 winemakers worldwide. invests in winemakers, with little investment in sales, marketing and distribution. The company is based in Napa with a winery in Sonoma Valley

For more information, visit The Naked Blog at

Ryan sent me the following Pinot Noir wines to sample, some from well-known winemakers. The quality was consistently high with a few exceptional wines. Prices are Angel prices.

2014 Daryl Rex Groom D.R.G. River Road Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

$18.99. Noted winemaker Daryl Groom has received multiple “Winemaker of the Year” awards, and at one point in his career, made Penfolds’ flagship red, Grange Hermitage. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose offers inviting aromas of dark red and black fruits, cedar, spice and mushroom. A luscious, fruity wine, with plenty of black cherry, black raspberry and pomegranate fruit flavors complimented by hints of oak, grilled beef and cola. Firmly structured with tannins showing up on the lingering finish. Score: 90

2014 Daryl Rex Groom D.R.G. Highmark Ridge Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $18.99. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose blossoms over time in the glass, offering aromas of dark berry jam and spicy oak. Very charming, with a core of sweet, succulent blackberry and black currant fruit flavors. Fully integrated tannins and oak, with a satiny texture, and a pleasingly long and slippery finish. My only nit is that the fruit is very ripe with a little raisin note showing up over time in the glass. Still, I liked this wine a lot especially for its texture. Score: 90

2014 Jacqueline Bahue Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $19.99. This talented winemaker brought the winery to life. Her experience includes making wine in Italy, Spain and New Zealand. · Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. I was taken by the nose which offered vivid black cherry glaze aroma complimented by a subtle note of barrel spice. Eye-opening attack, and both luscious and lithe on the palate, featuring middleweight flavors of black cherry and black raspberry. The seamless quality of the wine is striking, and the sweet cherry finish holds on for what seems like a minute. Score: 92

2014 La Tapatia Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $17.99. Dalia Ceja, a second generation winemaker from the Ceja family that founded the first Mexican-American owned winery in Napa County, has her own personal winemaking project. La Tapatia is a nickname given to women born in Jalisco, Mexico, where here mother was born. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with expressive aromas of black cherry, anise and spice cupboard. Discreetly concentrated and appealingly sappy, with flavors of black cherry, black raspberry and Hoison sauce with an echo of oak. Score: 89

2014 Matt Parish Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $19.99. Matt Parish was the chief winemaker for the Americas at Treasury, responsible for big name wines like Stags’ Leap, Chateau St. Jean, Etude and others. This label brings him back to the cellar and vineyards and away from administrative tasks. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy aromas of black cherry fruit. Nicely composed, very pretty, and forward drinking, with a mid weight black cherry core backed by modest tannins. Score: 88

2014 Richard Bruno Monterey Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $12.99. · Light cherry red color in the glass. Delicate aromas of cherry, crushed red berries and sandalwood. Light weight flavors of red cherries and berries with an accent of oak spice. Elegant, charming and simple, with gossamer tannins, juicy acidity and a silky mouthfeel. Score: 88

2014 Scott Kelley Oregon Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., $13.99. Kelley made Pinot Noir at Robert Mondavi and Estancia for over a decade, and has struck out on his own using the platform to fund wines from southern Oregon (Umpqua Valley). This is his first vintage of southern Oregon Pinot Noir. It is sourced from dry-farmed hillside vineyards and fermented in concrete and oak fermenters. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose leads with aromas of cherry, cranberry, peat, oak and floral bouquet. Up front and easy to like, with mid weight flavors of dark cherry and berry on the palate, accented by savory dried herbs, and framed by matched fine grain tannins. The finish is uplifting and juicy with modest length. Score: 88

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