January 2012 Meeting - Fairtrade Wines

John McNeil presented a selection of four white and three Fairtrade Wines from countries in the Southern Hemisphere.  Fairtrade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries to make better trading conditions and promote sustainability....

Fairtrade Labelling was created in the Netherlands in the late 1980s and here in the UK, the Fairtrade Foundation was established in 1992, with the first products to carry the Fairtrade Mark launched in 1994.


John opened the tasting with a Co-operative Cape Fairtrade Sparkling Brut 2010 from the Western Cape, S Africa (£7.99).  Made from 100% chardonnay, the wine was fresh and fruity in style with aromas of peach and a creamy finish.  The Co-operative was the first retailer in the UK to introduce a Fairtrade certified sparkling wine.  A Thandi Fairtrade Sauvignon Blanc 2010, also from the Western Cape, followed.  This was a typical Sauvignon Blanc with grassy, citrusy notes and dry on the palate.  Thandi is a Xhosa word meaning “nurturing love” and in 2003, Thandi became the first wine brand in the world to achieve Fairtrade certification.  (Wine Society - £6.25).

 Moving to Argentina, John then presented a Tilimuqui Single Vineyard Fairtrade Organic Torrontés 2009.  Tilimuqui is a small remote village in the Famatina Valley at the heart of La Rioja, Argentina.  La Riojana is currently the world’s largest producer of certified organic Fairtrade wines and in 2006 became the first winery in Argentina to receive Fairtrade certification.  A crisp, fruity wine made from the Torrontés grape it offered fragrant, gently spicy, citrus-fruit flavours.  (Waitrose - £6.99).  The final white was a Wild Valley Chenin Blanc 2011 from Wellington, South Africa.  This deliciously zingy and fruity wine was packed with the mouth-watering flavours of tropical fruit and citrus zest.  (Sainsbury’s - £7.99) 

The first of the reds was a Thandi Fairtrade Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from the Western Cape, South Africa.  This rich, shiraz-dominated red with smooth berry fruit had a touch of spice on the palate.  (The Wine Society - £5.75).  Another Tilimuqui followed and this was a Single Vineyard Fairtrade Organic Cabernet Sauvignon/Bonarda 2009, again from La Rioja, Argentina.  A Cabernet/Bonarda blend, it was selected for its juicy blackcurrant fruit and was bursting with ripe, vibrant character.  (Waitrose - £6.99).  The final wine was a Mosaique Wines Fairtrade Carmenère 2010 from the Valley Central in Chile.  This powerful, ripe Carmenère wine was deep purple in colour with complex flavours of berry fruits and vanilla with a peppery spice.  Its well-balanced structure and natural acidity give it a long lasting finish.  (Sainsbury’s - £6.99)

Thanks to the Fairtrade system, previously disadvantaged farming communities have been empowered and grape producers now receive a better deal and have an improved standard of living.  This interesting selection of wines, that included some of the lesser-known grape varieties, showed that Fairtrade wines are on a par with, or even better than, other wines from these countries.