Fairtrade wine: Make a difference to people’s lives in Fairtrade Fortnight

fairtrade wine

Check out the round logo if you're looking for Fairtrade wine

Every year I give a nod to Fairtrade Fortnight wine and here I am again, nodding.

In these next few days, thousands of people in the UK are recognising the efforts of farmers who live in some of the poorest countries in the world.

The sale of Fairtrade wine directly helps workers on wine grape plantations. It helps to increase their incomes and improve their communities.

There are 42 Fairtrade wine producer organisations across South Africa, Chile, Argentina and Lebanon. This network is supporting more than 5,000 people.

If you buy a Fairtrade wine you’ll be helping farmers and workers. You’ll be making a difference to people’s daily lives.

Three  Fairtrade wine choices from the High Street

A white from Aldi

Cape Original Fairtrade Chenin Blanc Chardonnay (£5.49, Aldi, 12.5% abv) The grapes are grown in the Western Cape of South Africa. It is one of the Fairhills range of wines which supports Fairhills Fairtrade Projects.

The project’s benefits have included childcare facilities on the farms, adult literacy schemes and a housing renovation programme.

The white wine is refreshingly crisp, with notes of lemon, apple and pear. There’s a good acidity which livens the palate.

An organic red from Sainsbury

Sainsbury is hugely supportive of Fairtrade. Its SO Organic Cabernet Sauvignon (£6.50, 13.5% abv) also hails from South Africa.

It has a robust, welcoming, rich nose of black cherries, forest fruits, with vanilla adding a velvety softness. There’s a gentle spiciness and a hint of chocolate.

Origin Wines  produces and bottles the wine, which  has no added sulphur.  The company supports the Fairtrade Fairhills Project.

Origin Wines says on its website: “Fairtrade is the best way of ensuring that the people involved with producing our wines are as happy with the final product as we are.”

A red blend from the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the high street’s strongest Fairtrade wine supporters. It has  several wines in its range.

Co-op Fairtrade Bonarda-Malbec (£5.25, 13% abv) is a tasty snip at the price. Bonarda and malbec grapes create a wine punching with plums, spice and vanilla.

The grapes are grown in the Famatina valley, which is in the La Rioja region of the country.

Here the La Riojana wine co-operative is the largest producer of certified Fairtrade wine in the world.  The co-operative has an exclusive partnership with our Co-op stores in the UK. Sales have funded a 150,000 litre reservoir to bring much-needed water to isolated villages.

You’ve helped to do that, if you’ve bought a Fairtrade wine from the Co-op.

Here’s a vodka nod to Fairtrade Fortnight

Fair Vodka

Waitrose is now stocking the world’s first Fairtrade certified vodka, FAIR Vodka (£34, selected stores and waitrose.com, 70cl).

FAIR Vodka is distilled from quinoa which is sourced from a co-operative embracing 1,200 independent farms in the Bolivian Andes. The resulting vodka is smooth, spicy and fruity and would be great in martinis. Fair Vodka has the added benefit of being gluten-free.

Read more about Fairtrade Fortnight 2019  at fairtrade.org.uk  . You can follow the hashtag #fairtradefortnight on social media. There’s also a useful link here where you can find Fairtrade wine retailers

First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Your best-buy supermarket champagne… here’s the festive fizz factor scores

Champagne bubbles in a glass

supermarket prosecco supermarket champagneYup – that’s me on this page. Sadly not the pretty thing in the middle, but the old blob on the left wearing a grey cardie. You’ll see we ran a supermarket festive fizz taste test … here’s the supermarket champagne ratings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Wm Morrison Champagne Brut NV supermarket champagneWm Morrison Champagne Brut NV (Morrisons, £15, down from £19 until January 1st)  This is a silver winner at the International Wine Challenge and is a champagne which is happy in its soul. It has honeysuckle, the juicy tease of ripe red apples, vanilla, cream cake and a summer breeze on the nose. It is soft and subtle with gentle flavours and acidity and the juiciness stays with you long after the last sip. Which is what we want, right?
Fizz Factor: 5/5


Lidl Champagne Comte De Senneval

Champagne Comte De Senneval (Lidl, £9.99) I really, really liked this. There’s aromas of fresh apples with a touch of cinnamon and a yummy ooze of baked apples too, with some sweet temptation of a baking cake. It’s not in your face though, it is subtle like a spring freshness. Apple flavours are very refreshing, and the bubbles, well, they’re happy little bubbles.
Fizz Factor: 5/5

 Supermarket Champagne: The best of the rest

Champagne Veuve Monsigny Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Aldi, £19.99) You might find this a bit overpowering unless you have a head start in knowing Champagne nuances.  I love this wine. Its an award-winning seasonal  offering which has aromas of apple compote, super-fruity apple tarte tatin, butterscotch and nuts. Side by side with other champers it is almost toffee-like. It has a good acidity and lovely complex rich apple flavours.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Duval-Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (Waitrose, £17.99, down from £26.99 until January 3)  Ah, this is subtle and feminine, delicate and wistful. There’s fresh apples and apple crumble on the nose, with a “hey notice me” wave from lemons. It is more fruity than complex, has a soft mouth-feel and is confident in itself. The name is inspired by the scent of the vine flower.
Fizz Factor: 4/5 

Les Pionniers Champagne Brut NV (the Co-operative, reduced by £1 to £15.99  until January 3) Ah. One of my evergreen favourites. It is a super-reliable Champers, named after the Rochdale Pioneers who founded the Co-operative movement, and it has a reputation of beating big names in blind tastings. It has a nose of biscuit, brioche and apples, and tastes of toffee-dipped green apples. Very drinkable.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

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Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£16, down from £19, until January 9) The grapes for this champagne come only from premier and grand cru vineyards, which makes for a special experience from beginning to end. The champagne has a rich nose with lots of ripe apples, vanilla and brioche. It has a good balance of fruit and acidity and some lovely fizzy giddiness plays around your tastebuds. It’s not an overbearing style but has finesse and elegance.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Sainsbury’s Champagne Blanc de Noirs (£20) There’s three main champagne grapes, one white, two black. If champagne is made   from the white grape only it is blanc de blancs; if just the black grapes are used, the wine is blanc de noirs. That’s what we have here. There’s sumptuous, tempting aromas of brioche, vanilla, butterscotch and citrus but the taste doesn’t live up to the aromas. Saying that, it has a good balance of acidity and a nice fruity flavour.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Louis Vertay Brut NV, (Marks & Spencer, £16.50, from £33 until January 1) A High Five to M&S for just scooping 60 medals, including six golds, at the International Wine Challenge last month. This champers has subtle aromas of fresh and dried fruit, with a sweep of tropical fruit which tickle the senses. Lasting bubbles liven the glass and a taste reveals touches of fruity complexity.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Marquis de Belrive Champagne Brut Reserve (SPAR, £16) I was surprised when I had my first nose dip of this champagne. I said “oooo” because I wasn’t expecting it to have such pretty aromas. It’s not a flag-waving champers, but it’s definitely one you’d be happy to pick up on your way to a party or a family visit. Grapefruit and toasty apples play on the nose and to taste a creamy texture is fizzled with citrus and brioche.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Champagne Pierre Darcy (Asda, £10, reduced from £18 until  December 27)  Well it’s a tenner so you can’t complain at that, but it needs perking up with fresh raspberries to make it a festive treat. The aromas have buttery edges but there isn’t much fruit; to taste there’s no depth or complexity. In fact it is bland and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Fizz Factor: 1/5

*First published in December 2016 in several regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express