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Why We Are The Best For Your Palate and Your Wallet



CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE to CALIFORNIA WINE, acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times as the "oldest, most prestigious reviewer of California wines", shows you the wines to buy and helps you avoid the wines not worth your money. We pull no punches in our detailed, hard-hitting reviews and tell you about every wine's availability, aging potential and the foods that go perfectly with it.


Every monthly issue of The GUIDE brings you hundreds of detailed, exacting reviews. We started CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE three decades ago with one goal in mind-to write accurately, insightfully and authoritatively about California and West Coast wine.



CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE enjoys a national reputation for its objectivity, expertise and integrity. We review wines in rigorous blind tastings at our own tasting table. We buy the wines we taste from independent retailers here in the San Francisco area rather than focusing on wines the producers provide. It is more expensive to do it that way, but it guarantees that what you read is what you get when you pull the cork on a wine reviewed by the GUIDE.



The GUIDE gives you the results of every blind-tasted wine, not just the chosen favorites. You will learn precisely why we get excited or bored, turned on or turned off by every wine we taste. And we absolutely avoid the highly questionable practice of reviewing wines tasted at the wineries with the labels showing and the winemaker and owner at our elbows.



In addition to the wine reviews that lie at the heart of every timely, monthly issue, the GUIDE goes behind the scenes to show you why the wines turn out the way they do, to provide continuing guidance about how wines have aged and to examine how California and Pacific Northwest wines stack up against their peers from around the world.


Our COLLECTORS' CORNER tastings of older wines that have been carefully aged in our own cellars and our CALIFORNIA vs. THE WORLD sections bring you broad-ranging and incredibly informative coverage. Every monthly issue alerts you to GOOD VALUES, and our BEST BUYS IN THE MARKET column calls your attention to wines that are simply too good to pass up.



The GUIDE is written by Publisher/Editor Charles Olken in collaboration with Associate Editor Stephen Eliot. Mr. Olken co-founded CONNOISSEURS' GUIDE in 1974 to focus specifically on our emerging region because no one was then serving the needs of California wine consumers and collectors like himself. Mr. Olken is also co-author of the CONNOISSEURS' HANDBOOK of CALIFORNIA WINES, a wine columnist in newspapers in California and a frequent judge at international wine competitions. Stephen Eliot also serves the Senior Wine Instructor at the California Culinary Academy.



When it comes to California wine, Connoisseurs' Guide leads the way. No other publication has been more widely praised and supported than the Guide. We live here. We know the wine country backwards and forwards, and we are in the vineyards and wineries every week-not a couple of times a year. We cover California wine comprehensively and authoritatively. Perhaps that is why so many people have called us "the best for the West".

"Connoisseurs Guide has no peer when it comes to covering the complex California wine scene."-San Francisco Chronicle


"No one does a better job with California wine than Connoisseurs' Guide."-Robert M. Parker, Jr., The Wine Advocate


"The best written wine publication in the United States."-Linda Murphy, Decanter Magazine


 "When it comes to California wine, I rely on Connoisseurs' Guide."-Peter Morrell, Morrell and Sons Wine Merchants, New York City


"The fairest, most rigorous wine evaluation process I have ever seen."-Kent Rosenblum, Rosenblum Cellars



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Inside the Current Issue

As the days grow shorter and the holidays approach, we once again turn our attention to sparkling wines. This year's comprehensive annual survey of local efforts reveals a bounty of outstanding bottlings from California as well as few standouts from Oregon and New Mexico. As much as we fancy fine sparkling wine, however, one does not live by bubbles alone, and, in this month's issue, we also report on a host of noteworthy new Syrahs and Merlots and a small, but select, lot of high-achieving new Pinot Noirs from Oregon.

California has nothing to prove when it comes to world-class sparkling wines. From luxury cuvées suited to the most special occasions to those priced for more frequent drinking, the number of first-rate efforts is at an all-time high, and it is clear that good just keeps getting better.

Full-flavored Syrah is welcome at our tables throughout the year, but it is a particular favorite with the heartier fare of winter and fall, and this month's roster of new releases includes some of the very best with not-to-be-missed versions hailing from Santa Barbara County, Sonoma and Napa Valley to the more northerly climes of Washington State.

There are still those who refuse to drink any $%&*#! Merlot, but we are most definitely not among them. The variety has proved its resiliency hereabouts and has survived its undeserved fall from fashion. Those who believe that it has nothing to offer are advised to take another look and discover just how good, well-made Merlot can be.

Oregon’s considerable success as a producer of fine wines began with Pinot Noir, and, as this month’s brief survey of a few noteworthy renditions makes clear, there is no question but that the grape has found a most happy home in the Pacific Northwest.

Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris get the spotlight in the latest installment of our recommended Best Buy and remind that high quality and affordability need not be mutually exclusive.