Happy May! I was a bit silent throughout April as I was freaking out, narrowing down my law school choices, and finally settling on attending Temple’s law school this August. Now that I have made my decision, I plan on spend these next few months focusing on something that may fall to the wayside once I start school again: wine. In addition, I’m trying to finish all the blogs I started in March and never got around to editing. Here’s my first one all about Fetzer Wines, a name with which I was familiar before starting the January #WineStudio.
However, I was not aware of how large the greater umbrella of Fetzer Brands was, nor had I tried many of their bottles before 2018. I covered some of the wines that fall under Fetzer in my posts about 1000 Stories, Bonterra, and Adorada. Yet, I have not touched on the bottles that actually carry the Fetzer name. On all of the bottles we received, there were claims that the winery is a “Pioneer in Sustainability.” Over the course of the session, we learned that Barney Fetzer, who established the winery in 1968, wanted to cultivate earth friendly grapes that were both good for the land and good for the wine. Quality was important, but the manner to achieve a delicious wine for Mr. Fetzer started with being mindful of the vineyard. More and more wines may be popping up now claiming to take care of the land, but in 1968, I can’t imagine that philosophy was all that far-reaching.
As a girl who usually opts for a red, I opened the 2015 Eagle Peak Merlot first. Merlot was my first love when I got into wine, even though I felt judged by everyone from my uncle to my friends. I liked that Merlot wasn’t too fruity and had some personality to it. I felt just as comfortable sipping on this wine in the dead of winter as I did on the beach in the summer. Also, as a millennial hipster-ish girl, I liked that so many people said they hated it. I like nothing as much as I like an underdog (Hufflepuff girl here!). The Fetzer Merlot was a pretty dark ruby color, and had aromas of dark plum, black cherry, and blackberry. Each sip was complex with those fruity elements coming through balanced by notes of coffee and a touch of forest earth. It had some character, but was a bit more reserved than a Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite those elements, it was still juicy, making it a crowd-pleaser to many. At $10, I think this is a great wine to stock up on as it will pair well with everything from grilled meats to spaghetti and meatballs. Any everyday sort of option.
Although I enjoyed the Merlot, the 2016 Shaly Loam Gewürztraminer was the best pairing I have had in quite some time. For me, Gewürztraminer is a wine that needs food. Otherwise, it’s too sweet, even if it has a more subtle sweetness like this one. Pineapple was the most prominent note to me, and in general there was a very tropical quality to every sip. There was tangerine, honeysuckle, white peaches, melons, and all of that fruitiness was balanced by some very light brioche notes. This made it the perfect pairing for a very spicy bowl of noodles with pork and kimchee. The ripe fruit flavors balanced out the prevalent heat of the dish, and I would recommend the pairing to anyone who likes complex spicy food with a great wine. With a SRP of $11, it makes it the perfect sweet wine to pick up before visiting a BYOB in order to play around with flavors and pairings. Although I enjoyed all of the Fetzer wines we tried, this one was the brightest star and one that will stick with me for some time.
The final bottle that I opened during this #WineStudio was the 2016 Sundial Chardonnay, which was a sunny golden color and a dependable option for many Chardonnay lovers. On the nose, there were full notes of lemon curd, pear, and some fragrant white flowers. On the palate, the wine began with some zing which mellowed out into a fruit forward wine that had some real linger to it. It was aged partially with oak, which created a lot of the roundness, as well as some of the sweeter notes of vanilla that came through as the wine opened up. However, this was not for me. I wouldn’t say that it was overly oaky, but I cannot handle any oak with my Chardonnay. Even if the grape looks at an oak barrel, I probably will not like that wine. Yet, my mom has had Fetzer Chardonnay before and this lived up to all her expectations for it. So, like I said, not for me, but this one could be for you, especially with the very attainable SRP of $10.
The biggest asset to the Fetzer name is the breadth of their selections. Every wine lover can find a bottle that will appeal to their tastes. Are you familiar with Fetzer wines? Do you have a favorite? Let me know, and if you don’t, go out a buy a few bottles and tell me what you think!
These wines were kindly provided to me by the wineries/importers listed above, but all opinions are my own.