Fairtrade wines at a fair price

Fairtrade symbolThe Co-op’s own-label fairtrade wines are on offer this week. Which is good news if you like your wines to be both ethically-sourced and taste quaffably fruity. Because these South African wines are superb examples of what wines made from well-known grape varieties should taste like.

The screwcapped Chardonnay and Shiraz taste exactly like wine books say they should: the Chardonnay smells and tastes of melon and pear, while the Shiraz tastes of chocolatey blackberry and cherry.

Co-op fairtradeBoth wines have been marked down a pound to £4.99 until October 4th, which currently makes them about a pound cheaper than many other supermarket own-label fairtrade wines: Sainsbury’s Fairtrade South African Chenin Blanc Viognier and also their Pinotage rosé are £5.99.

Tesco doesn’t yet have an own-label fairtrade selection, it sells wines from the South African Fairhills Wines instead. Three of these wines are available through their online site TescoWinebytheCase (minimum order 6 bottles): Fairhills Semillon Sauvignon Blanc £5.55, Fairhills Chenin Blanc Chardonnay £4.12 (25% off) and an ‘introductory offer’ (this same wine was selling in-store during July to early September) on Fairhills Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot means that each bottle is currently £3.09.

Which is a great bargain. This must be a loss leader for Tesco as the whole point of fairtrade is that grape growers receive a guaranteed price for their crops – which allows the twenty-one participating farms in the Fairhills Toitskloof co-operative to make a profit on their efforts.

Fairhills other wine brand, Origin, also bottle wines for the Co-operative. But I am assured by the Co-operative’s Fairtrade wine buyer, Maria Elener, that their South African Fairtrade wines are ‘unique’ to them and are not just a relabelled Fairhills bottles.

Coop redThe Co-op’s pound-off £4.99 offer also extends to a Fairtrade Argentinean Pinot Grigio (apple and lemon flavours) plus a Chilean Carmenere (damsons, blackurrant and mint). More textbook examples of what wines made from well-known grape varieties should taste like.

Which makes them great for learning about wines through wine tasting, start with the Co-op’s fairtrade wines and you’ll have a benchmark to compare all other single-varietal wines against.

PG Wine Tips

£3.99 and under

There are still some good bottles to be found that cost the same as a couple of National Lottery tickets.

Fairhills South African Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot

£3.09 TescoWinebytheCase (minimum order 6 bottles)

Open an hour before you need it and you’ll taste violets as well as blackcurrants and plums.

£5.99 and under

There are a few fruity, slurpable wines among the forgettable masses.

Co-operative Fairtrade South African Chardonnay

£4.99 (down from £5.99 until October 4th)

Bottled by Origin wines but blended by the Co-operative’s wine buyer, Maria Elener, to ‘meet volume requirements’ this wine tastes of melon, pear and vanilla pod. Good quaffable stuff.

Co-operative Fairtrade South African Shiraz

£4.99 (down from £5.99 until October 4th)

Chocolate, blackberry and cherry.

Co-operative Fairtrade Argentinean Pinot Grigio

£4.99 (down from £5.99 until October 4th)

More flavour than your average Pinot Grigio: apricot, banana and lime. A long flavour that keeps going.

Co-operative Fairtrade Chilean Carmenere

£4.99 (down from £5.99 until October 4th)

Damsons, blackurrant and mint.

Costs a bit more, but tastes great

Sometimes a bottle of wine tastes so fab it's still a bargain whatever it costs.

White River Fairtrade South African Chenin Blanc

£6.99 Laithwaites

Pineapple cheesecake with a slightly zesty spritz.

Six Hats Fairtrade South African Pinotage Rosé

£6.99 Laithwaites

Redcurrant and plum with an edge of blackberry. More of a light red. But still very good.

This article has also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk