IT IS wonderful how quickly you can find information on your
computer. I have now discovered the word aestivate, which means "to
lie dormant during the summer", and this is what much of the wine
trade does. Come the beginning of September, however, the season of
tastings begins with a vengeance.
This year we had a newcomer, The Beautiful South, and this
brought together under one roof the wines of Argentina, Chile, and
South Africa. These are the three countries that produce all the
Fairtrade wines that I know of that are on sale on the British
In a difficult time for the wine trade, one ray of light has
been Fairtrade wines. During 2012, the equivalent of almost 12
million bottles of Fairtrade wine were sold on the British market.
While almost every chain of coffee shops sells fairly traded
coffee, almost no chains of restaurants sell fairly traded wine;
their consumption is almost entirely at home, and most of the sales
come through the big supermarket chains.
Apparently, there are now 47 wineries in the three countries
accredited for Fairtrade wines, and, by buying what they offer, we
are able to make a small donation, while at the same time getting
some pleasure. The Co-op has 19 Fairtrade wines; Sainsbury's has
15; Tesco, four.
I enjoy red wines from Argentina, and my favourite wine on the
day came from La Riojana, said to be the largest co-operative
cellar in South America. This was the Tilimuqui Organic
Cabernet/Bonarda 2013. The 2012 vintage of this wine is at Waitrose
for £7.99. A close second came another wine from the same source,
Co-operative Fairtrade Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (£7.49).
As a source for Fairtrade wines, Chile seems to have lost its
way. One supplier went bankrupt, and although it was bought out by
the largest wine company in the country, Concha y Toro, the
latter's main priorities appear to lie elsewhere. My favourite
Chilean Fairtrade wine is Sainsbury's Taste the Difference
Carmenère 2012. This is a grape that, for long, was confused with
and sold as Merlot. Now it has become the signature red wine grape
of the country.
South Africa has the broadest range of Fairtrade wineries and
wines. So far, all the wines I have mentioned are red. From South
Africa my rosé would be Six Hats Pinotage, from Marks & Spencer
(£7.99). This is light and fruity. Of the white wines, I
particularly enjoyed the Citrusdal Chenin Blanc 2013, although I am
not sure where it is on sale. For party time, Morrisons have 2.25l
(two-bottle equivalent) bag-in-box Sauvignon Blanc and
Shiraz/Merlot under the Fair Exchange label for £13.99.
South African Fairtrade wines that have received awards in
recent competitions include Cambalala Pinotage 2012 (Aldo, £4.99),
and Asda's Extra Special Shiraz 2012 (£7). One name to look out for
in the Fairtrade field is Fairhills, and I can recommend their
South African Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot 2011 (Tesco