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6:00am Saturday 1st March 2014 in Lifestyle
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris raises her glass to a good cause and marks Fairtrade Fortnight
Since 1992, the Fairtrade Foundation has campaigned to raise global awareness of high ethical and environmental standards in the production of anything from clothes, food and, for purposes here, drink.
It's clearly worked; last year, the sales of all Fairtrade products in the UK totalled £1.78 billion. A substantial £27.5 million of this came from (an equally substantial) 10.9 million litres of Fairtrade wine.
If you want to add to this essential movement to support farmers and workers across the world, there's no better time than now, with Fairtrade Fortnight currently running until March 9.
Supermarkets are good hunting ground for the iconic blue and green Fairtrade tag and Waitrose have championed the cause by supporting Argentina's leading Fairtrade producer, Tilimuqui with a wine made from the country's indigenous white grape, torrontes.
More aromatic than a pinot grigio and fruitier than a sauvignon blanc, try Tilimuqui Fairtrade Single Vineyard Torrontes 2013, Famatina Valley, Argentina (£6.39 from £7.99, from now until March 11, Waitrose) which is a juicy spring white with baskets of exotic fruit flavours, a breezy finish and lingering spicy note.
Marks and Spencer have recently expanded their Fairtrade range and the eye-catching label for Zebra View Chenin Blanc 2013, South Africa (£7.59, Marks & Spencer) should stir some interest around this good, fruity chenin blanc, overflowing with red apple and tangy citrus flavours with a hint of apricot on the fresh finish.
With a Fairtrade tag in trendy monochrome, Monteflores Fairtrade Malbec 2012, Argentina (£9.99, Marks & Spencer) spends six months in oak and this smooth, rich, plummy red boasts a full, structured palate that keeps pumping out the flavours on the long, seductive, silky finish.
The Co-operative sells 52.5% of all Fairtrade wine in the UK and they have sold 35 million bottles in the past 10 years - an achievement which has been recognised by the Fairtrade Foundation, earning them the deserved accolade of the world's largest retailer of Fairtrade wine.
With 17 own-brand Fairtrade wines from Argentina, South Africa and Chile to choose from, consumers are spoilt for choice, but The Co-operative Fairtrade Argentine Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Argentina (£5.99 from £7.49, from now until March 11, The Co-operative) should make it easier. This soft and juicy cab sav punches above its weight with blackcurrant aromas and a nice core of dark berry fruits, with spicy overtones and firm tannins stands out among the line-up of reds.
Elsewhere, Virgin wines have been supporting the Fairhills Fairtrade project in South Africa since 2008 and their Usizo (meaning assistance in Zulu) range features four styles and favourites include Usizo Pinotage 2012, South Africa (£8.49, www.virginwines.co.uk). Made from South Africa's signature red grape, pinotage (a crossing of pinot noir and cinsault), it is medium bodied with flavoursome mulberry fruit with a hint of damson and slightly smoky profile - a feel-good glugger from the word go.
With the growing trend for rich, round ripe reds from South America, Spanish giant Torres have a prime example with Torres Santa Digna Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Chile (£9.44, www.vintagemarque.com) from their Santa Digna Fairtrade 'Fair for Life' winery in the Valle Central. Elegant and succulent with violet and black fruit aromas and a minty, herbal character with a textured, velvety finish, it's a deliberately drinkable style, well worth picking up a couple of bottles.
With a rather more ornate label, but just as deserving, the first Fairtrade wine from Lebanon has made its debut. Coteaux Les Cedres 2009, Bekaa, Lebanon (£15.99, www.sumawholesale.com) is a blend of syrah (shiraz), cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo and caladoc (a variety of grenache and malbec). Intense and exotic with a sophisticated, savoury palate of strawberries, cherries and cassis with lingering spices and nutmeg on the lengthy berry finish, it's a delicious reminder we sometimes need to branch out and be more adventurous - all in a good cause, of course.
:: Best buy
Boys from Brazil... Ballantine's Scotch whisky brand is hotting up for a summer of cocktails with the launch of Ballantine's Brasil (£11.50, 70cl, www.mixitwithbrasil.com), made from Scotch whisky and Brazilian lime peel.
A delicate combination of citrus complemented with a smooth touch of vanilla, it sounds curious but tastes delicious. The sweet and creamy flavours of Scotch perfectly balance the refreshing lime and create the 'Highland Samba' signature serve - all you have to do is mix Ballantine's Brasil with lemonade, serve over ice and top with two freshly cut slices of lime.
:: Liquid news
The legend lives on... The Rewards of Patience (Seventh Edition) by Andrew Caillard, published by Hardie Grant Books, £16.75 (from £25), on www.amazon.co.uk, is a fitting tribute to Australia's famous vineyard, Penfolds, and its nearly 170-year portfolio of fine wines.
Released every five years, the latest Edition features vintage-by-vintage tasting notes, historic timelines and recent panel tastings by 30 independent wine critics, from Beijing to New York and Penfolds's spiritual home, the Magill Estate Winery in South Australia.
"Once again, the Museum Cellar has been unlocked," says Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker. "We have showcased rare bottles and complete verticals to independent assessment from some of the industry's leading commentators."
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