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Meet the New CGCW


For thirty-five 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

We are being visited with the return of the "food war snit" of the early 1980s, and it is not enough for some folks to like a light hand in their wines. In the misnamed "Pursuit of Balance", they have declared war of the larger body of California wines as corpulent, silly and tragic caricatures of themselves. It would all be funny if it were not déjà vu all over again. The wines in this Issue are caught in the middle. Fortunately, there are wines of all styles and enough to go around for all tastes.

This latest round probably started decades ago with the "Anything But Chardonnay" crowd. For some reason, perhaps because the California style of Chardonnay is not much like that of France, there were tasters who simply vowed not to drink the local Chardonnay. Funny thing is, with our diverse climate, there are plenty of tight, acid-driven wines to go around.

The high ripeness of most Syrahs and the fact that there is simply not as much hidden, nuanced beauty to the grape has slowed what looked like a rush to supplant Merlot back just a decade and change ago. Syrah plantings have continued to grow, and a deep, rich Syrah can be a wonderful choice for some meals, which explains the continuing following for that style.

No longer only a sweet gulper, Rosé has seen makers of coastal table wines come rushing in with drier versions intended for serious drinking with serious foods. Gulp or sip? Horses of a different feather, but both worth pursuing.

The rise in popularity of Spanish wine has brought about renewed interest in this variety which has lived here for decades under the name Valdepeñas. It is now a work in progress, and we chart its course in this Issue.

Late-arriving Pinots from Testarossa and Kosta Browne, made by the dozen, in their own version of culture clash, are included in this Issue because the wines are too good to miss, and bottlings of their quality will not stay around long.

Fill your checkout cart with wines that offer lots to like at affordable prices when you do your research in Best Buys.