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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

Although holiday festivities have come and gone, we begin another year of Connoisseurs' Guide with a selection of new Zinfandels, Sauvignon Blancs and fortified dessert wines that, in themselves, are cause for continued celebration. And, as always, we take a moment to briefly glance back on what 2021 meant in the ongoing saga of fine California wines and remember the top wines that graced our tables this past year.

We are among those who hold that Zinfandel deserves a place on the roster of the world's important wines, and there are so many stunning, immensely satisfying Zins now being made that they cannot be overlooked by anyone who believes that fine wine is a necessity of life.

When it comes to fine, white-wine values, Sauvignon Blanc ranks among the best with a far-reaching variety of styles from invitingly fruity to involvingly complex, and finding well-crafted renditions priced for everyday enjoyment requires no effort at all.

A glass of something strong and sweet is our favorite way to end a good meal, especially in chilly winter months, and January's selection of remarkably good local offerings reminds that fine examples of fortified dessert wines are not exclusive to Portugal and Spain.

There are good and not-so-good years. Though the one just past had its high points and low, it was, on balance, as we look back at how 2021 unfolded, a time when lovers of good West Coast wines had much to celebrate.

We tasted thousands of new wines in 2021, and, while a great many earned high recommendation, there are several that stood out in the minds of Stephen, Charlie and Lynne who each offer their personal choices as the most memorable of the year.

It is not news that Cabernet Sauvignon can be expensive, but as this month's Best Buy recommendations remind, that does not mean that all well-made examples come so dear that they are rare treats to be opened only on special occasions, and our latest shopping list of wines long on value includes sparkling wines that will not strain post-holiday budgets.