Cleanskin is a term used in Australia to describe a wine which does not “belong to” any winery. The label on these only state the bare minimum such as grape variety, region and vintage plus the information which must be provided by law i.e. alcohol content, volume, additives and standard drink information.
Cleanskins were introduced to Australia in the early 2000s after an oversupply of wine. A cleanskin can be a line which wineries have problems selling or just a vintage they need to get rid of to make space for the new one. Therefore cleanskins are sold cheap in cases of six or a dozen and by cheap I mean cheaper than beer, soda or even water in some cases…
Prices can get as low as $2 per bottle, but if you’re looking at cleaskins from reputable regions such as Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Margaret River, etc. each bottle tends to be selling for around $10. Buying a cleanskin is always a risk even if you base your purchase on all the knowledge you have about wine (the variety, the region and the vintage), but often it’s a risk worth taking at below $10 a bottle.
Buying a cleanskin doesn't automatically imply that you’re getting an awful tasting wine which can only be used for cooking. On the contrary, often these can be as enjoyable as wines from other less recognised wineries or even better than a bad vintage from an acknowledged producer.
There are several stores who specialise in selling cleanskins, such as ACG and Cleanskins.com, but it’s common to find them at your local bottle-o and large retail chains like Dan Murphy’s as well. The Wine Point even offers customised label designs to go on their range of cleanskin reds, whites, rose's and sparkling, which can make a very thoughtful gift or are great for corporate events.
And last but not least, let me show you some cleanskin examples of Australia’s most widely produced variety, the Shiraz.
If you’re focusing solely on the price, Dan Murphy’s is offering 30% off all clean skins if you buy a case of six. A cheap bottle of Shiraz is priced at $2.65, which means the case would only cost you $15.90. Don’t forget that if you live in a metro area, you can also get it delivered for free using their voucher. ACG’s 2013 Shiraz is a bit more pricey at $5 a bottle, while at Cleanskins.com you would have to buy a case of a dozen for a “whopping” $6.58 a bottle.
But if we’re talking about Shiraz, you might as well "break open your piggy bank" and try a Barossa Valley cleanskin, which will cost you $39.84 for a case of six ($6.64 a bottle) at Dan Murphy’s during their 30% off promo. The price for a Barossa Valley Premium Shiraz at ACG is $9.50 a bottle, which is currently available at 50% off making it slightly cheaper than Dan’s regular price per bottle (i.e. before the 30% off off).