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Meet the New CGCW


For over forty years, Connoisseurs’ Guide has been the authoritative voice of the California wine consumer. With readers in all fifty states and twenty foreign countries, the Guide is valued by wine lovers everywhere for its honesty and for it strong adherence to the principles of transparency, unbiased, hard-hitting opinions. Now, it is becoming the California winelover’s most powerful online voice as well. And, our new features provide an unmatched array of advice and information for aficionados of every stripe.


Our monthly newsletter, noted for its accuracy, independence and thoroughness by both the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle remains the focus of our activities. Connoisseurs’ Guide reviews thousands of California and West Coast wines in peer-to-peer blind tastings. Our guest panelists are all industry professionals including other wine writers, sommeliers, retailers and distributors. Almost all other wine reviews are the result of “single palate” tastings and do not match the depth of knowledge and powerful analytical talents brought together at our table.


We buy a high percentage of the wines we taste, and while we accept samples, we do not limit ourselves to reviews of wines submitted. And we never engage in the highly questionable tactic of tasting wines at the winery with the labels showing. Many limited production wineries insist on that bias-inducing scenario. We politely tell them that we do not do it. As the result, we may miss out on some limited production wines, but we do not compromise on our guarantee to you of complete independence and total objectivity.


The new CGCW uses the Internet to bring its readers and fans a series of new features including wine country restaurant recommendations, book reviews, touring advice, wine and food pairings that work because we have perfected them over years of serving meals at the end of our blind tastings. And, our unprecedented REPORT CARDS, issued every Thursday, will tell you which wineries and writers have got it right and which have got it wrong. Subscribers to CGCW will receive the REPORT CARD by email on Wednesdays as well as advance notice of the daily extras that will appear in the Connoisseurs’ Blog for the coming week.


Subscribers also receive discount purchases of our best-selling book, The Connoisseurs’ Guidebook to California Wines and Wineries, published by the University of California Press. Newly minted and up-to-date, this handy tome is part atlas, part encyclopedia and part tour guide, and its introductions to the leading California wines and wineries is fast becoming must reading for everyone who enjoys California wine.



To learn more about Connoisseurs Guide, TAKE THE TOUR and be sure to VIEW A SAMPLE ISSUE.


Inside the Current Issue

Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay may be the names writ largest in the minds of most fans of California wines, but they are far from being the only varieties that can provide great satisfaction, and this month we take time to survey recently resurgent Syrah and Merlot as well as a collection of delectable expatriates hailing from Italy and Spain, all of which help make California's vinous melting pot so endlessly fascinating.

Syrah is very justifiably regarded as one of the truly great, red-wine grapes of the world, and while we have been ardent believers of its future in California since its earliest days, local Syrahs are reaching new heights with every vintage.

Merlot is often seen as a softer, more convivial version of Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is a fine variety with a voice of its own that can yield both deep and complex, very ageworthy wines as well as affable and affordable efforts that do not require lengthy cellaring.

Good California Barbera is nothing new, but what is new is that there are so many well-made examples now available, and the current lot counts more than a few tasty efforts that will pair nicely with dishes ranging from barbecued fare to sundry weeknight pastas.

Renowned as the grape of Chianti and Brunello in Tuscany, Sangiovese has its very capable advocates here at home that are making noteworthy wines with a uniquely Californian accent.

An Italian white variety responsible for bright and lively whites in Sardinia and Liguria where it goes by the name of Pigato, Vermentino has developed a tiny cadre of true-believing vintners hereabouts whose efforts are well worth acquaintance.

Over the last decade or so, Tempranillo has attracted increasing attention in California as well it should, for, when grown in the right place and carefully made, it demonstrates why it is widely praised as the great red variety of Spain.

Yet another Spanish transplant, Albariño is stealthily finding a place in California and the Northwest, and it is a welcome addition to the roster of refreshing white wines that have a special affinity to the fresh seafoods that abound here on the Pacific Coast.

Riesling accounts for an exceptional number of out-and-out bargains in white wines running from bone dry versions to unctuously sweet, and, in advance of next month's issue that features new Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, we include a few recent favorites of each that hit the mark for fine value as smartly as that mark can be hit.