IT IS 20 years since the first Fairtrade Fortnight and it’s around the corner again. So it seems only right that I look at Fairtrade wines.
Buying Fairtrade helps ensure that farmers and workers are receiving a fair price – as well as money to help their community invest in services such as education, sanitation and healthcare.
The UK’s fairtrade website (www.fairtrade.org.uk) explains: “Wine producers across South Africa and South America face unique economic, social and political challenges. Farmers are exposed to an unpredictable future.”
Fairtrade wine doesn’t always have a great reputation where flavour is concerned. I mentioned to someone I was tasting Fairtrade wine, and their reply? “I bet it’s horrid,” Despite that perception, in 2013 more than 11 million litres of Fairtrade wine were drunk in the UK.
Some of it isn’t perfect, but that can be said about many wines on the shelves today.
The Co-op sells 52.5% of all Fairtrade wine in the UK and is the world’s largest seller of Fairtrade wines. A secondary school in Tilimuqui Argentina, is educating 315 pupils, and is one project funded by the Co-op’s Fairtrade wine.
The Co-op, by the way, has been named the UK’s top Ethical Drinks Retailer at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2015.
Let’s look at some wines.
The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (£4.99 during Fairtrade Fortnight) is from South Africa and might surprise if you’re expecting a grassy-green hum and vibrant gooseberries on the nose. It is full-on with pears, lemons and tropical fruit, with a vibrant taste that delivers the more familiar apples and gooseberries.
The Co-operative Fairtrade Malbec Rosé (£3.99 from £4.99 until March 17) may surprise too. Aromas of mandarins lead from the front, together with a sprinkle of pepper. To taste, squidgy, newly picked strawberries.
Sainsbury’s is the largest retailer of Fairtrade products in the UK with 100% of the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference South African wines Fairtrade.
Taste the Difference Fairtrade Chenin Blanc (£6) is very refreshing, green apples with limes, pears and a squeak of acidity.
I was not blown away by the Fairtrade reds I tried. I threw down a foodie gauntlet to three by trying them with a Thai takeaway.
The trio gave it a healthy stab but didn’t beat the whites and rosé.
Taste the Difference Fairtrade Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot (£6, until March 3) is a South African wine and was deep with cherries, very drinkable and had good body. Sainsbury’s helps to support playgrounds, a computer centre, sports club and a gardening project through this wine.
Taste the Difference Fairtrade Carmenere, also £6, and from Argentina, had a peppery spice but not much lingering flavour. It offered much in drinkability, and was inoffensive, but I wanted more from one of my favourite grapes.
Extra Special Fairtrade Shiraz (£5, ASDA) was commended in the International Wine Challenge last year. It proclaims blackberry flavours and a spicy finish. It was more spice than fruit and didn’t float my boat.
Finally, a white from Tesco. Fairhills Cape Original Chenin Blanc Grenache (£5.99) sees the two grapes create lemon, lime and tropical fruit aromas, which peep out of the glass modestly, and charm in the mouth. Very easy to drink.
Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 runs from Monday, February 23 until March 8 2015.
You can follow this link to some Fairtrade wines available in the UK at www.fairtrade.org.uk
Published in the saturday extra magazine February 21, 2015