SWIMMERS and rowers aren't the only ones doing South Africa proud at the London Olympics. Two of the three first "official" Olympic wines served to athletes, spectators and officials at the Olympic Park and virtually every other Olympic venue come from Stellenrust, near Stellenbosch.
Stellenrust's Fairtrade Chenin Blanc and Fairtrade Rosé (a blend of 50% Pinotage, 35% Shiraz and 15% Merlot) were, along with a Shiraz-Tempranillo blend from Brazil, sourced for the games by UK wine merchant Bibendum.
According to Bibendum commercial director Kirstie Papworth, the wines were chosen with the "taste profile of the typical Olympic spectator in mind".
The Chenin Blanc, she says, is crisp and fresh, while the Rosé is slightly sweeter and fruitier but not too sweet. The red is smooth, soft and rounded. Former international athlete and South African long-distance runner Kobie van der Westhuizen is one of the owners of Stellenrust. He worked with Bibendum for more than a year to conclude the Olympic deal.
About 1-million bottles of each wine, packaged in 750ml and 187ml recyclable polyethylene terephthalate bottles with screw caps, are on sale at the games at about £20 and £4.50 respectively.
That the two South African wines are Fairtrade-certified products - Stellenrust is South Africa's largest Fairtrade-certified wine farm - is, says the Fairtrade Foundation, evidence that wine certified by the organisation has come a long way in terms of quality and demand. On purchasing a Fairtrade-certified product, buyers pay an agreed Fairtrade development premium above the crop price. This is one of Fairtrade's major empowerment tools because it allows small-scale farmers and farm workers to invest in projects they consider necessary for their communities.
The transaction has resulted in a premium of R450,000 for the farm workers of Stellenrust, which will probably be used to improve infrastructure in their community.
Stellenrust's Timeless Red Blend 2008 was named Best Fairtrade Red at the Michelangelo CCL Label International Wine Awards last year.
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