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WINE REVIEW: Fetzer, 2019 Gewürztraminer,Shaly Loam, Monterey, CA ($10)

by Andrew Chalk

Available in all 50 U.S. states and nearly a dozen nations worldwide, Fetzer Shaly Loam Gewürztraminer (SRP $10) is an accessible icon whose classic varietal notes of apricot, rosewater, lychee and ginger elevate occasions year-round—though never more winningly than during Thanksgiving time and cooler-month occasions calling for “winter whites.”

America’s favorite Gewürztraminer, Fetzer’s Shaly Loam was first bottled more than 40 years ago and continues to claim hearts, marketshare and momentum.(1) But the wine is more than just popular: it’s consistently characterized as “Best Buy” or “Best Value”(2), with these accolades affirming Fetzer’s heritage of consistency and quality.

Hailing from Monterey County vineyards where the wine’s namesake soil—a combination of fossilized seashells and limestone—basks in coastal sunshine tempered by Pacific fog, Shaly Loam delivers the cool-climate terroir that elevates Gewürztraminer’s unequalled aromatic profile. With its characteristic sweet-spice aromas and medium body, Shaly Loam hits at a unique fulcrum of flavors and textures that helps build its appeal vintage after vintage.

Margaret Leonardi, Winemaker
Margaret Leonardi, Winemaker

In the winery, Winemaker Margaret Leonardi patiently ferments the fruit below 50°F, and tastes from the tanks every day. She notes: “I like to ferment some of the lots drier and some sweeter, at varying alcohol levels. Some tanks express a lot of grapefruit, some are really spicy, and others are more floral. We get these brushstrokes of flavor during fermentation that come together in a very nuanced bouquet in the final blend.”

Building on this notable attention to detail, the 2019 vintage is beautifully balanced and layered, off-dry with a subtle sweetness that works well with holiday fare’s hallmark sweet-savory combos. The palate is a medley of exotic notes like apricot preserves, peach cobbler, pineapple upside-down cake and savory cashew that feels tailor-made for cooler times and feasts. I paired it with Thai food with great success.


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