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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

It is not so long ago, about forty-five years and counting, going back to the reformation of the California wine scene, when there were no wines called Merlot or Cabernet Franc, and most of the wine called Sauvignon Blanc was sweet and soft. Bordeaux grapes had yet to make their marks here. By the late 1960s, the big changes in California brought us increasing swaths of Cabernet Sauvignon, a dry style of Sauvignon Blanc often attributed to Robert Mondavi, the first Merlot plantings and then, in the decades that followed, the less well-followed Bordelais reds of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

There is a reason why so much of what is stored in our cellars consists of Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings. Not only was it the first and foremost collectible in California when we started our cellars, but it tastes good and ages well. Admittedly, today's Bordeaux and California Cabernet-based wines are riper and richer than their decades-old counterparts, but they remain among the most cellarable offerings around.

The talk back then was about what the newly planted Merlots were going to do for our Cabernet Sauvignons. But a funny thing happened on the way to the fermenter, Merlot turned out to have a nice, rich, friendly personality on its own.

We may not have much of it in California vineyards, and what we have very often gets blended into Cabernet Sauvignon, but this grape has structure and character and is worth trying for a nicely differing variation on the theme.

Be on the lookout for Sauvignon Blancs from 2012, especially those made in lighter, fresher styles because they have succeeded in this vintage in ways that makes them one of the great successes of the year.

Once again, Best Buys brings you a collection of carefully selected wines that please the palate and are easy on the wallet. In this Issue, we focus on Chardonnay, Syrah and Petite Sirah.