Wine Press: Fairtrade Fortnight and a sparkling nod to the Oscars

IT’S Fairtrade Fortnight.  I want to embrace  wines which carry the Fairtrade stamp of approval and are born out of such a worthy cause; but I do so with  mixed results.

The Fairtrade Foundation (www.fairtrade.org.uk) explains it has  several missions; “better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world”.

The Co-operative sells 52.5% of all Fairtrade wine  in the UK. It has also been recognised as the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade wine by  the foundation.

It has 17 own brand Fairtrade wines and to mark Fairtrade Fortnight is offering 20% off some of them  until March 11.  Here are three.

The Co-operative Fairtrade Argentine Malbec 2012 (£6.79 from £8.49)  This is a full-bodied but not especially typical Malbec. There’s  too much tannin, which coats the palate like melted chocolate – but without the sweetness. Decanting  makes it smoother and it was delicious with a hearty   tomato pasta sauce. There are notes of raspberry and vanilla and a peppery spice that  work well with food.

The Co-operative Fairtrade  Malbec review
The Co-operative Fairtrade Malbec

Co-operative Fairtrade South African Chardonnay 2013 (£4.79 from £5.99) An early taste of spring with a wine that’s cool and crisp with a lemon aftertaste.  You can imagine adding a few  chilled bottles to a picnic basket or enjoying it on a   summer’s evening. The weather’s not up to outdoor drinking yet, but bear the wine in mind for when the sun is shining.

The Co-operative Fairtrade Cape Sparkling Rosé  2013 (£6.39 from £7.99)  This has barely  discernible fresh strawberries and floral notes; a fizz that dies down quite quickly. To taste, dried red fruits and a fizzle of acidity which disappears almost as quickly as the bubbles in the glass. Needs a good chill, as indeed do I.

Over to Sainsbury’s, the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade products. All of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference South African wines are now Fairtrade.

Taste the Difference Fairtrade Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (£6.99) has won a silver at the International Wine Challenge. It doesn’t have knock-you-over kiwi-style aromas but there’s subtle gooseberry and limes on the nose which are reflected on the palate. A tickle of acidity, together, with the fruit flavours  leave a  medium lingering finish.

  • Fairtrade Fortnight continues until March 9

Also in my glass

Just recently a video trended on social media of Stephen Cronk opening a bottle of wine using a wall and a shoe. Not a corkscrew in sight. His wine Mirabeau Côtes de Provence Rosé  is sold by Waitrose (£8.99).  It’s the pink of an English-rose  teenage girl, blushing at the thought of her first crush. The aromas are strawberry punnets on a summer breeze, poached pears with a zizzazz of citrus. Strawberries and red fruits liven in the mouth with an acidity which balances perfectly.

Toast Oscar winners with Pongracz Sparkling Rosé (£10.99, a saving  of 25%  until March 9, at Morrisons stores and www.morrisonscellar.com).  It is made in South Africa in the traditional way (like Champagne). A fine bubble tinkles  after the excited pouring fizz dies down. There’s fresh strawberries, strawberry shortcake, brioche and rhubarb crumble on the nose. Fresh red fruits and strawberries bedazzle on the tastebuds as a good balanced acidity whooshes everything along.