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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

For many years, Cabernet Sauvignon has been responsible for California's most heralded red wines, and outstanding new releases head up this edition of Connoisseurs' Guide. Its close relations, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot make a fine showing this month as well. In a decided shift of gears, we also check in on a bevy of new wines made from the classic white varieties of the Rhône, and there are tasty reasons aplenty why they have a growing contingent of fans.

It is hard not to be excited about the achievements of local Cabernet of late, and, if there seems to be no end of enjoyable bottlings to be had, the very best of the bunch, such as those from Flora Springs, Lail and Patrimony reviewed in this issue, are breathtaking wines that stand with the finest in the world.

Merlot has not gone away, and, as those makers who have not been deterred by the winds of fashion continually prove, serious and ageworthy Merlot is alive and well.

Cabernet Franc is not new to California, but this important grape of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux is getting some serious local attention lately and is breaking from its traditional role as a blending partner to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Varietally labeled versions were a rarity in California only a few years ago, yet inspired by the grape's successes in Argentina, local vintners are making great strides with Malbec.

Although Petit Verdot on its own can admittedly be a tough customer, fans of dark and sturdy red wines will find things to like in the handful of local offerings.

Since its arrival in California some thirty-five years back, Viognier has filled a unique niche. Its wonderfully outgoing fruit and its intense aromatics have understandably made it the most popular of all the white Rhône grapes here in California.

Grenache is developing a small, but loyal following of late, and its pale mutation is getting a few looks as well. Like most of its white mates from the Rhône, Grenache Blanc most often appears in blends, but it has shown the ability to please on its own.

There is only a tiny amount of Roussanne being grown locally, and its circumstance is not likely to change soon, but its propensity for honeyed richness has earned it a devoted, if fairly small following.

There is even less Marsanne being grown in California that Roussanne, and with a few notable exceptions, it makes relatively understated wines that contribute structure and a minerally twist to Rhônish white blends.

Syrah, Grenache and Sauvignon Blanc have consistently been varieties that can be counted on for delivering more than a few good values, and April's picks of the bunch are as long on character as they are comparatively low in price.