THE exact date for the start of spring may be a matter of debate, but it's generally agreed that this is the season symbolising growth, rejuvenation and all that is new and fresh.
Good timing then to launch a new wine range focused on lightening the load on the Earth while producing a quality product, and a good addition to a rejuvenated summer wine shopping list.
Billed as "wines with soul", the Earthbound range is aimed at the environmentally and socially conscious consumer; they're Fairtrade-labelled and all but one are certified organic. They're produced at Papkuilsfontein in the Darling district, where the workers are shareholders and the farm is B-BBEE accredited.
Fairtrade is an international organisation that certifies various agricultural products – such as fruit, cocoa, coffee, cotton, rice and wine – as having met certain standards of fair labour practices and farming methods that don't harm people or the environment. The idea behind the mark is to enable the consumer to make buying choices that support fair treatment for farmers and farm-workers, including a fair wage paid to the workers and a fair price paid to farmers for their product.
More than 30000 Fairtrade products are sold in 125 countries, and South Africa is the biggest Fairtrade wine producer globally.
Earthbound's lighter footprint extends from organic farming practices to lightweight glass bottles and recycled packaging.
The bottom line, though, is in the taste, and these wines do deliver on that score, too.
The two whites, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chenin Blanc, are light-bodied and crisp, perfect for a spring picnic. The Chenin is a good pick for a richer, rounder flavour, suggesting both ripe and dried fruit.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is a well-rounded, juicy red, while the Pinotage delivers more body with hints of oak, smokiness and sweet spiciness.
The only wine not certified organic, although grown on a nearby farm in line with organic principles, is the Pinot Noir. It's a good example of this cultivar that's growing in popularity – clear, jewel red with fruitiness balancing the typical mushroomy-earthiness of a Pinot Noir.
The Earthbound wines offer a range of diverse tastes, all easy-drinking, happy wines for sunny days, and they're well-priced at around R42 for the whites and R53 for the reds (prices from Spar Tops).
The range is brand new and expected to be stocked in most major supermarket and bottle-store chains.