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October 2021

Our Monthly Newsletter
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This edition of Connoisseurs' Guide covers a good deal of ground with reviews on well-known varieties such as Syrah and Merlot as well as a half-dozen more that, while less-heralded and in some instances well outside of the mainstream, have unique and pleasing virtues all their own.

As longtime admirers of Syrah and strong believers in its future in California, we confess to real happiness at just how good the state's offerings have become.

Wonderfully versatile and rarely anything but congenial, fruit-drive Grenache is adding a new feather in the caps of a growing contingent of wineries specializing in Rhône varieties.

There has been much discussion about how good Merlot is back, but we would argue that it never disappeared, and, though it may suffered a fall in broader popularity, the collection of fine examples to be had these days is causing those who thought it irredeemably fallen from grace to think again.

The "other" Cabernet has gotten a new look in recent years, and, where once a somewhat anonymous player in Bordeaux-styled blends, it now counts any number of very good, cellar-worthy offerings that are proudly labeled by its varietal name.

Even though Sangiovese may not be a big, marquee-name in California, there are some very good versions to be had, and any who might doubt its wherewithal to succeed locally need look no further than the very fine line-up from Vino Noceto featured in this issue.

If admittedly scarce in California's vast vineyard plantings, Vermentino yields light and lively, very refreshing white wines made by a few devoted vintners who are happily willing to play a bit outside the lines.

We have commented before and still believe that California Tempranillo remains very much a work in progress, and, if most bottlings are on the rustic and sturdy side, there are wineries working to bring a slightly more refined face to Spain's most famous grape.

This month, we take a moment to compare local Albariños with those from its Spanish home in the Rías Baixas, and, while the two versions can be quite different, the best of each are briskly balanced, food-worthy with real affinity to lighter seafoods.

Racy Rieslings and spicy Gewürztraminers get their turn in the Best Buy spotlight this October and share the stage with several exceptionally high-achieving Pinot Noirs that deliver top-shelf quality at prices that invite more than occasional drinking.

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the connoisseurs' series - featuring hard to find two and three star wines