Two of the best wines for Fairtrade Fortnight

Ed Robinson, Co-op Fairtrade wine buyer, told me: “The role of Fairtrade wine has never been more important as it secures the cost of grapes during times of uncertainty, which we continue to champion as an ethical retailer.”

Increasingly ethical consumers seek out Fairtrade certified products, including bananas, cocoa, coffee and wine, underlining the extent to which the pandemic has produced an augmented global awareness, altering the way we cook, drink, eat and shop. The Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2020 recently disclosed that Fairtrade purchases rose by 15% last year, while nearly 30% of shoppers vowed to buy more Fairtrade goods.

By choosing Fairtrade wine you are supporting ventures that benefit farmers and their families. According to the Fairtrade Foundation’s website, buying Fairtrade wine from Argentina, Chile, Lebanon and South Africa ‘helps ensure that farmers and workers are receiving a fair price – as well as an additional premium to help their community invest in services such as education, sanitation and health care’.

Want to enjoy some guilt-free glugging? I’ve selected two high-quality wines ticking all the boxes, including the critical Fairtrade one. This vinous duo is both easy on the conscience and easy to sip. Cheers to Fairtrade Fortnight, which kicks off on Monday!

1) Must-Try Organic Argentinian Fairtrade Malbec from High-Altitude Vineyards

Co-op Fairtrade Irresistible Organic Malbec 2019, Famatina Valley, La Rioja, Argentina

 £7.50, Alc 13% 

Co-op has supported Fairtrade for over twenty years and claims many firsts, including vending the UK’s first Fairtrade-certified bananas and being the first supermarket to start retailing Fairtrade products in each store. It’s the largest retailer of Fairtrade wine in the UK, with around 73% of the market share, evermore expanding its Fairtrade range to meet rising demand. During the pandemic, it doubled its rate of ordering South African wines to help protect farmers during the key harvest period, and this week (24 February) it will introduce seven new Fairtrade wines from South Africa, including exclusive listings from Bruce Jack and Vergelegen.

If I had to pick one bottle wearing a Fairtrade badge from Co-op’s shelves that repeatedly makes the grade it would be this charming, velvety, damsony, black-fruited, organic Malbec from the quality-minded La Riojana cooperative of some 500 small-scale grape growers in the beautiful Famatina Valley, northwest Argentina.  A very fine Fairtrade red, with my bets on earlier enjoyment. Ripe, rounded tannins and a fairly lingering finish. The fruit definition is right on the money too, the wine no more than medium-bodied; great value from this well-respected Argentinean producer. Try it with pork chops, sirloin steak, sausages and mash or with a good asado (barbecue).  Serious flavour, great value, pure class – and virtuous, bang on for a winter warmer!

2) A Crisp & Refreshing South African Fairtrade Chenin Blanc

Tesco Finest South African Chenin Blanc 2020, Origin Wine, Breede River Valley, Western Cape, South Africa

Tesco, £7.50, Alc 12.5%

With over two dozen producer organisations, South Africa is the world’s largest producer of Fairtrade wine (around two-thirds of global sales). The Breede (‘broad’) River rises in the mountains of Ceres in Western Cape province and streams southeasterly for some 320km to the Indian Ocean. The longest navigable river in the Western Cape, it offers vital irrigation for the multitude of fruit and wine farms along the sheltered valley. This well-priced Fairtrade certified Chenin Blanc – the most widely-cultivated grape variety in the Cape (with about 18% of total plantings) – from Tesco’s Finest range is full of pear, yellow apple, honey and apricot flavours. It’s fresh, pure, dry and uncomplicated, but it has lots of taste, too – as well as that crucial, classic Fairtrade mark. One for seafood, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.

Two other recommended Fairtrade wines:

  • WHITE – Waitrose Blueprint Fairtrade Chenin Blanc 2020, South Africa(Waitrose, £6.99, Alc 13%)
  • RED – Winemaker’s Selection Fairtrade Paarl Shiraz 2019, South Africa (Lidl, £5.99, Alc 14%)

For more information visit the Fairtrade Foundation’s website here

Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine

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