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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

Cabernet Sauvignon is front and center this month, and, as usual, December marks the time of many important new releases. The state's leading white variety, Chardonnay, shares the stage, and, in addition to the several dozen new offerings reviewed, we conclude our retrospective report begun in November and find that older Chardonnays can offer a good deal to like as we turn our attention to a small collection from 2005, 2006 and 2007. Finally, as the season is one that calls for fine sparkling wine, we follow up last month's annual Survey of local bubbly with a quick look at a handful from Champagne.

The last several years have seen a steady parade of exceptional Cabernets, and there is nothing to suggest that things will change any time soon. The bar of achievement just seems to keep getting higher, and more and more makers are proving their mettle in mastering California’s most revered red grape.

There are more than a few reasons for Chardonnay's profusion of fans, and, if it is still without peer when it comes to rich and expressive, full-flavored white wines, it is a variety that continues to show ever increasing refinement.

It may not be the first variety that comes to mind when thinking about wines to lay away for a lengthy stay in the cellar, but it turns out that, not only can Chardonnay survive for a decade or more, it can achieve stunning complexity and surprising beauty with age.

While we disagree with those who believe that world-class sparkling wine begins and ends with Champagne, we admit to liking many of those made in the hallowed Champenoise vineyards northeast of Paris just as much as we do their accomplished West Coast cousins.

Our updated shopping list of especially fine values includes noteworthy bottlings of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot and Sparkling Wine that will bring relief to seasonally strained budgets while at the same time adding to holiday cheer.