User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

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



See Expert Comments


Inside the Current Issue

For many years, Cabernet Sauvignon has been responsible for California's most heralded red wines, and outstanding new releases head up this edition of Connoisseurs' Guide. Its close relations, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot make a fine showing this month as well. In a decided shift of gears, we also check in on a bevy of new wines made from the classic white varieties of the Rhône, and there are tasty reasons aplenty why they have a growing contingent of fans.

It is hard not to be excited about the achievements of local Cabernet of late, and, if there seems to be no end of enjoyable bottlings to be had, the very best of the bunch, such as those from Flora Springs, Lail and Patrimony reviewed in this issue, are breathtaking wines that stand with the finest in the world.

Merlot has not gone away, and, as those makers who have not been deterred by the winds of fashion continually prove, serious and ageworthy Merlot is alive and well.

Cabernet Franc is not new to California, but this important grape of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux is getting some serious local attention lately and is breaking from its traditional role as a blending partner to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Varietally labeled versions were a rarity in California only a few years ago, yet inspired by the grape's successes in Argentina, local vintners are making great strides with Malbec.

Although Petit Verdot on its own can admittedly be a tough customer, fans of dark and sturdy red wines will find things to like in the handful of local offerings.

Since its arrival in California some thirty-five years back, Viognier has filled a unique niche. Its wonderfully outgoing fruit and its intense aromatics have understandably made it the most popular of all the white Rhône grapes here in California.

Grenache is developing a small, but loyal following of late, and its pale mutation is getting a few looks as well. Like most of its white mates from the Rhône, Grenache Blanc most often appears in blends, but it has shown the ability to please on its own.

There is only a tiny amount of Roussanne being grown locally, and its circumstance is not likely to change soon, but its propensity for honeyed richness has earned it a devoted, if fairly small following.

There is even less Marsanne being grown in California that Roussanne, and with a few notable exceptions, it makes relatively understated wines that contribute structure and a minerally twist to Rhônish white blends.

Syrah, Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc have consistently been varieties that can be counted on for delivering more than a few good values, and April's picks of the bunch are as long on character as they are comparatively low in price.