Decanter tastings director Christelle Guibert reports from the annual Fairtrade wine tasting in London.
With more than 130 wines on show, and increased sales year on year [a 38% uplift in 2009], Fairtrade is now recognised among shoppers – but do they actually understand what Fairtrade means?
Like other Fairtrade products, buying Fairtrade wine ensures that producers are paid a living wage and that grapes are grown using environmentally sustainable practices.
Increased Fairtrade sales mean greater chances for the communities to invest in the health of the workers and their families, in the education of their children or community development projects.
But Fairtrade does not necessarily mean better. My priority is to drink good wine, and if the wine is produced in an environmentally-friendly and responsible way then it’s a bonus.
While the quality has improved in the last few years, there is a huge range of diversity in terms of quality. Many are still very disappointing and some should definitely not be available on the shelves. I’m not saying rule out Fairtrade wines, but shop carefully. To help you with this, I’ve selected a handful of wines that that I would gladly drink on a regular basis.
My selection offers extremely good value wines and each time you buy one of those Fairtrade bottles, about 5% of the retail price will go back to the community.
Kleine Rust, Chenin Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch 2010 South Africa
Stellenrust is one of the largest family run Fairtrade certified estates in Stellenbosh. Straight forwardon the nose with notes of green and tropical fruit aromas. The palate has a crisp acidity and is well-balanced with a long length.
Stellenrust, Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, 2010South Africa
They bottled the first wine on the farm in 1928 and today they have 200ha under vine. The nose exhibits melon and grapefruit with a creamy edge. Balanced and tangy on the palate with lots of ripe apple and tropical fruit, a good mouthfeel.
Stellenrust, 45 Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch 2009South Africa
The number 45 refers to the age of the vine. This is a more serious wine displaying intense exotic flavours with some fine oak aromas. The palate is rich and complex with more intense ripe fruit characters and hint of toffee on the finish, the overall is fresh and carries on for a long time. The Fairtrade premiums will go towards school funds & equipment, so definitely a good buy.
Six Hats, Fairtrade Grenache 2009 South Africa
Laithwaite introduced their new Fairtrade range six months ago. The Six Hats Grenache is packed with juicy red fruit. The palate is vibrant and fresh with some blackberry characters, soft tannins with lots of juicy fruit on the finish.
Bosman, Adam Red Blend 2008 South Africa
This is the flagshipwine from the Bosman family and named after Adam Appollis, one of the first workers on the farm when acquired in 1798. A very unusual but interesting blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre, Primitivo and Viognier, the wine displays blackfruit aromas and spice. Well-structured on the palate with rich blackfruit characters supported by fine grainy tannins and well-judged oak. Long lingering finish.
Cantora, Carmenère 2009 Chile
Cantora is a term usedto describe the female singer that chant and accompany the workers during the harvest season. This is a new venture and very promising first vintage. Packed with rich blackfruit with a nice peppery and minty intensity. Well-balanced with soft tannins and bright cherry fruit, decent length. The ‘Cantora’ on the label was drawn by one of the children of the community, 11 year old Camilla.
Tilimuqui, Single Vineyard Torrontés, La Rioja 2010 Argentina
Founded by Italian immigrant in 1940, La Riojana is the first Fairtrade certified winery in Argentina. Very inviting nose with floral notes and peachy fruits and hint of lime very fragrant and fresh. The palate is elegant and had a zesty acidity followed by true varietal characters: floral, grapes and lime; a very enjoyable glass of wine.
Machitun, Carmenere, Central Valley, 2010 Chile
Lots of spice on thenose with some blackberry and cherry flavours. The palate is subtle and balanced and has a nice chocolatey hint on the finish.
£6.99 International brands
Written by Christelle Guibert