Are Fairtrade wines becoming more palatable?

This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight starts on Monday and runs until March 10.  It is designed to draw our attention to the ever growing importance and range of products that the Fairtrade movement has become.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 3:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st February 2019, 4:47 pm
Cape Original Fairtrade Low Alcohol Moscato Ros

The Fairtrade Foundation aims to enable the poorest and weakest producers to improve their position and have more control of their lives.

The now widely recognised Fairtrade brand logo assures buyers the product has been certified to internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.

In real terms, Fairtrade wines only come from Chile, Argentina and South Africa, although I have now seen a Fairtrade wine from Lebanon.

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Cape Original Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, Western Cape

One of the problems I have always had with this category of wines is that very often the wines really don’t stack up in terms of value or quality for the consumer.

It’s all very well making wines that will benefit the farm workers who produce them but if the wine in the bottle is not as good in terms of quality as a comparable wine from the same region, then we are not going to buy them.

In some ways the same could apply to organic wines, but that’s for another day and column.

However, maybe things are changing and there are now some already established wine producers who are throwing their weight behind Fairtrade which can only be for the good.

Waitrose Fairtrade Merlot 2018, Breede River Valley

So while you are putting Fairtrade bananas and coffee in your shopping trolleys over the next few weeks here are a few wines to include.

The Co-op has always been the champion of Fairtrade in this country, but other supermarkets are now joining the Fairtrade party, including Aldi, which has just launched a new Fairtrade range.

I have to hold my hands up and say that Cape Original Fairtrade Low Alcohol Moscato Rosé (Aldi £4.49) is not my style of wine but I can understand its appeal.

It is only 5.5 per cent, it’s light, fizzy with lots of sweet red fruits and a soft, sweet finish.

It would work on a warm summer evening out in the garden or served with a bowl of mixed summer berries and also pour a little over the fruit as well.

Cape Original Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, Western Cape (Aldi £5.49) works well at this price. There are some tropical fruits and a touch of honey on the nose, followed by a nicely textured palate with more tropical fruits on the finish.

It’s not complex but that’s fine and it would work nicely with a simple risotto or haddock fishcakes. 

Sticking with the South African theme, Waitrose Fairtrade Merlot 2018, Breede River Valley (Waitrose, Ocado £5.99) does a really good job at this price.

There is lots of ripe plummy fruit and a little spice on the nose, followed by a soft, juicy palate with some richness on the finish. Again, not complex but this is very drinkable with a mid-week supper of sausages and mash or steak and kidney pie.