With a greater awareness these days of the exploitation of farmers in developing countries increasing numbers of consumers are seeking out products bearing the Fairtrade logo. The logo promises that farmers get paid a fair price for their produce and labour and that a financial premium is returned to the farmers to help improve their living and working conditions.
Browse the supermarket shelves and you will see the Fairtrade logo on a wide range of products including fruit and vegetables, tea, coffee, cereals and biscuits. However, were you aware that you could buy a bottle of red wine with the Fairtrade logo on the label?
One supermarket has championed Fairtrade and its range of own-label red wines all bear the Fairtrade logo. The Co-operative has sought out red wine grape growers in Chile, Argentina and South Africa and persuaded a number of small wine producing co-operatives to supply their red wine grapes for a fair price. The result is a range of enjoyable, good value red wines with a conscience.
If you enjoy red wine from the New World then the Co-op’s own label wines have much to offer. Apart from the 3L wine boxes, the red wines are all priced between £4.99 and £7.99 and the range includes wine styles typical of each of the countries represented.
The Co-op’s commitment to paying producers a fair price pre-dates the official Fairtrade campaign. The supermarket launched the UK’s first fairly traded wine in 2001 in partnership with the fair trade organisation Traidcraft. When the Fairtrade standards were established the Co-op embraced the campaign and in 2004 it introduced the first supermarket own-label Fairtrade wine.
Since then the Co-op’s support of Fairtrade wine producers has gone from strength to strength. More than 30 million bottles of Fairtrade wine have been sold by the supermarket and the Co-op’s market share of UK Fairtrade wine sales is a massive 64%. As the range has been revamped recently this hefty market share is likely to continue.
So what does the Co-op’s Fairtrade red wine range include? Firstly, there’s a good example of one of Chile’s most popular red wine grapes, Carmenere. The Co-operative Fairtrade Carmenere 2011 from Chile is full-bodied and a dark crimson in colour. Its aroma is described as “a cherry-like” with “smoky, spicy and earthy undertones”. It has “rich black fruit and dark chocolate flavours supported with gentle tannins”. You can buy this wine for just £5.99.
The Co-op’s Fairtrade red wine range includes three wines from Argentina. The Bonarda Shiraz 2011 costs £4.99 and is described as medium-bodied with “black cherry, bramble and wild spice notes on the nose and soft ripe fruit, touches of chocolate and subtly integrated oak on the palate”. The Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is dark and full-bodied. It has aromas of raspberry and spice with a hint of vanilla whilst the palate features “intense ripe cassis flavours with a background of smoky fruit”. You can buy this “smooth, weighty, complex and long” red wine for £6.99.
Top of the Co-op’s Fairtrade red wine range is the Organic Gran Reserva Malbec 2011 from Argentina. This big, full-bodied wine has been barrel-aged and shows excellent varietal character. It is described as “starting with a complex bouquet of vanilla, chocolate and tobacco, followed by concentrated flavours of succulent fruit and finishing with spicy overtones and smooth firm tannins”. It punches above its weight at just £7.99.
The Fairtrade red wine range includes a couple of examples from South Africa. The 2011 Cinsault Shiraz is a good value quaffing wine at £4.99. It is medium-bodied with a vibrant ruby colour and is packed full of “juicy, red berry fruit flavours combined with subtle hints of spice and soft tannins”. The 2011 Shiraz costs a little more at £5.99 but for that you get a full-bodied and smooth red wine. It has a bouquet of blackberries, raspberries and spice with hints of vanilla and black pepper whilst the palate has a “juicy, velvety character … supported with a structured finish and fine tannins”.
If you are expecting guests you could do worse than invest in a 3L wine box of the Co-operative Fairtrade Merlot Cabernet Shiraz 2011 from Chile. The wine is a deep dark red with aromas of spicy pepper and earthy undertones whilst “firm tannins and elegantly balanced berry fruit flavours lead to a soft lingering finish”. This red wine box costs £17.99.
The Co-op’s Fairtrade own-label red wines are worth a try as an alternative to your usual choices. If you are amongst the growing numbers of people who want to do their bit to help impoverished producers in poorer parts of the world then these wines offer a guilt-free drinking experience.
What better way to justify a couple of glasses of red wine with dinner?