By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 11 March 2023
As Fairtrade Fortnight draws to a close, I look back at my pick of the top Fairtrade wines tasted over this promotional fortnight.
All wines below have the Fairtrade certification. For every bottle of Fairtrade wine sold throughout the year, a small additional amount of the selling price – what they call ‘social premiums’ are paid back to their community foundation to fund local projects from aftercare centres, hygiene upgrades to local choirs.
This global system helps disadvantaged small scale farmers and workers across the world improve their living standards and invest in their community winery, school and brand. South Africa is by far the world’s largest Fairtrade wine producer, but you can also find Fairtrade labels from Lebanon, Chile and Argentina.
The most prominent retailer of Fairtrade wines in the UK, by a long way, is Co-op - with an impressive range. They are now celebrating the anniversary of their first major social project funded by Fairtrade wines – to bring clean drinking water to a remote rural community in Argentina – the village of Tilimuqui in La Rioja region. Previously only 30% of houses had access to a clean reliable water supply – but with Co-op’s new Fairtrade water project the whole community has benefitted from a hygiene upgrade thanks to the Fairtrade wine sales.
Chile: TORRES ESTELADO TRADITIONAL METHOD PAIS BRUT ROSE NV
£12.75 Simply Drinks Direct; The Drink Shop; Roberts & Speight; Fareham Wine Cellar
Very popular at our recent Chilean tasting – delicate pink fizz with light strawberry fruits made using the same method as Champagne. Pais was the first grape to be planted in Chile in C16 and is considered very much Chile’s local grape with 10,000 hectares still grown across southern central Chile.
South Africa: TASTE THE DIFFERENCE CHENIN BLANC 2022
£6.50 reduced from £8 until 21 March at Sainsbury’s
Cracking price for a well made Cape Chenin Blanc with light honey and citric fruit palate and refreshing twist to the finish.
South Africa: BOSMAN ADAMA FAIRTRADE WHITE 2021
Richer fruitier white blend made from Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc grown on granite soils in Wellington region; loved its rich texture, honeysuckle and melon notes – succulent fruits, moderate alcohol (12%) and long finish for the price.
South Africa: FAIRVIEW VIOGNIER 2020
£14 Ocado; £14.95 Frontier Fine Wine
Apricots and citric fruit with underlying oak notes and plenty of vibrant acidity – a feature often lacking in Viognier grown in warm climates. This hails from the warm slopes of Paarl Mountain – grown by Charles Back who first introduced the grape to South Africa in 1994.
South Africa: BRUCE JACK FAIRTRADE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2021
Buy a bottle of this Breedekloof Sauvignon Blanc – and in a small way you will be helping to support the Merwida Farm village in Cape’s Breede river valley. Apple and citrus fruits with zesty zippy palate.
South Africa: IRRESISTIBLE FAIRTRADE SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVA 2021 £6.75 Co-op
Money from this wine has helped fund an after schools karate club, which is helping to take children away from issues of drug abuse – so when you buy a bottle of this fresh zingy pear-fruited Cape Sauvignon Blanc you know you will be helping a youngster keep active and safe.
Chile: CO-OP FAIRTRADE CARMENERE 2020
Spicy peppery Carmenere with coffee and chocolate notes – a great value example made from grapes sourced from vineyards owned women; would suit anyone who loves Merlot. Funds have helped pay tuition fees and bursaries to children of vineyard workers.
South Africa: BOSMAN ADAMA FAIRTRADE RED 2020
Full rich ripe Cape Shiraz blend with small percentages of Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache, Primitivo, Viognier, Nero d’Avola and Tempranillo from leading Fairtrade winery Bosman Adama in Wellington; loved its prune and black cherry fruits and gentle oak.
Argentina: IRRESISTIBLE FAIRTRADE ORGANIC MALBEC 2020
From the remote Famatina valley in north west Argentina grown at extreme high altitude 1,400m. It shows the typical bright fruit character and nervy acidity you find from these high grown vines – with an interesting savoury palate and sweet plummy finish.
South Africa: VERGELEGEN FAIRTRADE OCTAGON CABERNET MERLOT 2019
From a leading Cape winery, Vergelegen, and top winemaker Andre van Rensburg this is a great price for such a quality Bordeaux blend with minty notes, dark black cherry fruit flavours and rich layers of vanilla oak – a Co-op exclusive.
South Africa: ZALZE VINEYARD RESERVE FAIRTRADE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2020
Layers of rich ripe black fruits and dried herbs in this intense full bodied Cape style Cabernet with its weighty tannins and chocolate notes. Plenty of fruit and intensity for your money here from top winery Kleine Zalze.
Join Rose’s Chablis Masterclass on Thursday 15 June in Edinburgh www.rosemurraybrown.com