Walk into any major supermarket in the UK these days and browse along the wine aisle and you will find a number of bottles of white wine for sale under the supermarket’s own name. Supermarket own-label wines are becoming increasingly popular as customers look for reliable quality and value for money.
One supermarket stands out for offering something extra from its own-label white wines. The Co-operative has long had a reputation as an ethical company and has championed Fairtrade food and drink for some time. This policy has included its own label wines and the supermarket now has an impressive line-up of Fairtrade wines sold under the Co-op label. Many of these wines were on offer throughout Fairtrade fortnight in February and March this year giving customers the opportunity to try a number of different styles of Fairtrade white wine at a reduced price.
According to the Co-op it sells more Fairtrade wine than any other retailer. The first Fairtrade wines were sold under the Co-op label in 2004 and since then Co-op customers have bought more than 30 million bottles of own label Fairtrade wines. In fact, almost two thirds of Fairtrade wine sold in the UK is sold under the Co-op label.
The Co-op sources its Fairtrade white wine from South Africa, Chile and Argentina. The growers in these countries are given a fair price for their grapes and receive a premium to help improve the conditions in which they live and work. Bottles of Co-op Fairtrade white wine retail from £4.99 and include some familiar and less familiar grape varieties and styles.
Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Chardonnay white wine grapes all feature amongst the Co-op’s Fairtrade wines from South Africa. The Fairtrade Chenin Colombard 2011 retails for £4.99 and is described “a fresh and zesty white wine with lemon and floral tones and tropical fruit flavours”. The Fairtrade Chardonnay 2011 is “deliciously crisp” with aromas of citrus and tropical fruit. It is described as “beautifully succulent on the palate with lovely passion fruit and pineapple flavours”. It can be purchased for £5.99.
The Co-op’s Fairtrade Wild Ferment Chenin Blanc South Africa 2011 costs a little more at £7.99 but for that you get a white wine made using grapes selected from old bush vines which are then fermented with wild yeasts partially in French oak barrels. The wine is described as having “a ripe, tropical bouquet with soft vanilla tones, followed through on the palate with hints of pear drop, passion fruit and a deliciously fresh minerality”.
The supermarket also sells a couple of own label Fairtrade sparkling wines from South Africa for £7.99. The Fairtrade Sparkling Brut 2011 has a delicate pale lemon colour and is said to have “crisp, floral and citrus aromas matched with flavours of tropical fruits and crunchy green apples” whilst the Fairtrade Sparkling Rose 2011 is said to be lively and fruit-driven with “abundant sweet strawberry and rose petal aromas” and “red fruit flavours and hints of raspberry”.
The sparkling wines would be ideal for Easter entertaining as would the Fairtrade Chardonnay Semillon South Africa 2011 which is sold in a 3L wine box for £17.99. This pale coloured dry white wine is crisp and fruity with floral notes and flavours of melon and peach.
The Co-op has two Fairtrade white wines from Argentina. The Torrontes Chardonnay 2011 is £4.99 and showcases Argentina’s signature white wine grape. Torrontes is a highly aromatic white wine grape and combines well in this blend with the fruit from the Chardonnay grapes. The wine is described as having “floral and citrus tones matched with green apple and pineapple flavours”. The Fairtrade Pinot Grigio 2011 is a lovely, fruity white wine. It is described as having “delicate floral aromas followed by an abundance of flavour and character with crisp apple and fresh citrus fruits combined with delicate spicy tones” and it costs £5.99.
Chile is known for producing enjoyable Sauvignon Blanc and the Co-op’s Fairtrade Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is no exception. This white wine is described as being “delicate yet characterful” and combines “minerality with a nettly, grassiness on the nose and a wonderful purity of citrus fruit flavour with just a hint of peach on the palate”. It’s available to buy for £6.99.
The Co-op also sells a Fairtrade Rose from Chile for £5.99. This “vibrantly pink” rose is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend with aromas of strawberry and raspberry and a “fresh, juicy and very moreish palate”.
The Fairtrade trademark offers the Co-op’s own label white wines a strong selling point. Many supermarket customers are keen to establish their ethical credentials and the Fairtrade logo is appearing on an increasing number of products offering customers a guilt-free shopping experience. However, the quality and value for money of the product have to be good to encourage customers to keep buying. The success of the Co-op’s own-label Fairtrade white wines is the best indication of the quality and value for money of the supermarket’s wine range.