Sam’s Club has recently begun to offer the club’s first Fair Trade Certified wine. Neu Direction, a 100% Malbec, comes from the renowned winegrowing region of Lujan de Cuyo near Mendoza, Argentina. The red wine is one of only a handful to receive this status in the inaugural year of the groundbreaking Fair Trade Wine certification program in the U.S.
Neu Direction is produced by Via de la Solidaridad (vines of solidarity), a co-op representing 20 small farms, which grow and hand pick the grapes, and Bodega Furlotti, a century-old family-owned winery. The wine was recognized by the London Independent as the best Fair Trade Certified red wine in the world in February 2008.
Food Channel chefs and wine enthusiasts Dennis Pitchford and Trip Kadey sampled a bottle of the Neu Direction 2005 Malbec and offered their appraisals.
In recent years, Argentina has done much to put Malbec into the glasses of wine drinkers around the world. Chefs Pitchford and Kadey both agree this vintage from Neu Direction doesn’t disappoint and continues Argentina’s outstanding reputation as a producer of quality, affordably-priced Malbecs.
Chef Pitchford immediately noted the wine’s attractive deep garnet/purple color and black cherry nose. Both chefs enjoyed the Malbec’s fruit-forward attack, which gave way to flavor notes of fresh plum and some subtle spice and earthiness. The chefs felt this is a very accessible wine that would be an excellent accompaniment for grilled pork chops, roast turkey or duck. Chef Pitchford also noted the wine’s moderate tannins provide enough foil for some fattier cuts of beef.
At under $10 a bottle, both chefs agreed the Neu Direction Malbec is an exceptional value—and the Fair Trade Certification on the label offers an additional ‘feel-good’ benefit to the purchase.
(It’s worth noting that membership to Sam’s Club is not required to purchase wine, beer and spirits there [except in Alaska]. Venturing inside to buy a bottle or two of wine not only gives consumers an opportunity to save a little money, it also enables them to sample the warehouse club buying experience.)
Extensive Search Process
Dex McCreary, senior merchandise director of wine and spirits for Sam’s Clubs, says the company ‘tried nearly 100 different fair trade wines to find the right one, and it’s gratifying to know we are helping the local growers in Mendoza and serving our members a premium product.’
Workers participating in Fair Trade Certified programs are guaranteed a fair price for their goods based on an analysis of the cost of the living in their area that will allow them to lead their lives with dignity, and to fund the development of schools, medical clinics and other basic necessities. The process is administered in the U.S. by TransFair, a nonprofit organization.