Co-op launches own-label Fairtrade wines - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

fairtrade symbolToday sees the launch of the Co-op's first own-label Fairtrade Reserve wines, a white from South Africa and a red from Argentina. Reserve status means the two new wines are priced at £5.99, £2 more per bottle than the Co-op's 12 other Fairtrade wines – but are they worth it?

The grape growers receive a guaranteed Fairtrade price for their crops and additional money from the Co-op to help fund social projects - a community centre and mini bus for the workers at the Du Toitskloof vineyard co-operative in South Africa's Western Cape and a new water pump for the La Riojana wine co-operative's well in the Famatina Valley, Argentina.

The South African Sauvignon Blanc and the Argentian Malbec are great examples of wines made with these grape varieties – they taste exactly like wine books say they should. The screwcapped Sauvignon Blanc smells and tastes of gooseberries and grass clippings, while the organic and fairly-traded Malbec tastes of creamy blackcurrant yoghurt.

Both wines have been marked down to £4.79 until 21 October, but that still makes them about a pound more expensive than many supermarket own-label single varietal wines. There is no way I'd want to pay the full price of £5.99 a bottle for the Sauvignon Blanc, it Sainsbury's boxjust isn't worth it. Such a simple and uncomplicated gooseberry flavour needs a simple price tag - Sainsbury's 3-litre box of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc offers much better value for money. Working out at the equivalent of £3.35 a bottle, this four bottle-sized winebox offers lashings of classic Sauvignon Blanc gooseberriness that will keep fresh for over a month. If you're prepared to drink the same white wine with all your meals for several weeks then wineboxes make the best deals around.

The Argentian Malbec's dark chocolate notes add complexity to its basic blackcurrant flavours. Additional aromas of green leaf and violet flowers makes this wine almost worth its pound-a-glass full price. This wine is very good value at its introductory £4.79 and only slightly less so at its normal price of £5.99.

Both wines are available at the Co-op's smaller convenience stores and at their larger market town stores and superstores. But just double-check whether your local Co-op stocks the wines before you make a special journey - call their Customer Careline on 0800 0686 727.

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