Vineyards are often imagined as the idyllic lifestyle – perfect green regiments surrounding a picturesque country house with a pool of oceanic proportions. But with Fairtrade Fortnight upon us, it’s a timely reminder that there are good wines made by smaller producers who face challenging environments, from Lebanon to South Africa. By choosing Fairtrade, the idea is to improve living and working conditions. With careful selection there are plenty of decent Fairtrade wines.
Sainsbury’s, for instance, has some excellent bottles in its Taste The Difference range. To get you started, here are three spicy reds: Fairtrade Shiraz 2017 (14%, South Africa) £7, Fairtrade Carmenere 2016 (13%, Chile) for £8 and Fairtrade Morador Malbec 2016 (13%, Argentina), £8.50.
But the Co-op is the biggest seller of Fairtrade wine in the world, currently offering an impressive 29 different wines and whose biggest project to date is helping to build a secondary school and funding a clean-water facility in Argentina. According to Fairtrade, buying one of its wines ‘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’.
I saw that impact at first hand on a visit to a Fairtrade winery in Chile some years ago, but as far as quality goes, I reckon it’s South Africa that’s leading the way. Waitrose Fairtrade Chenin Blanc Oliphants River 2017 (12.5%), for £5.99, is a good bet, and for red, Tesco Finest Fairtrade South African Pinotage 2017 (14%) is as sleek and deep as mocha for £7. For a bit more of a treat, Santa Florentina Malbec Reserva Fairtrade 2017 (12.5%) £9.25 from corneyandbarrow.com is surprisingly elegant and reflects the effort of small producers striving for better quality in your glass and better quality in their lives. Seems a fair deal to me.