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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

It is not so long ago, about forty-five years and counting, going back to the reformation of the California wine scene, when there were no wines called Merlot or Cabernet Franc, and most of the wine called Sauvignon Blanc was sweet and soft. Bordeaux grapes had yet to make their marks here. By the late 1960s, the big changes in California brought us increasing swaths of Cabernet Sauvignon, a dry style of Sauvignon Blanc often attributed to Robert Mondavi, the first Merlot plantings and then, in the decades that followed, the less well-followed Bordelais reds of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

There is a reason why so much of what is stored in our cellars consists of Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings. Not only was it the first and foremost collectible in California when we started our cellars, but it tastes good and ages well. Admittedly, today's Bordeaux and California Cabernet-based wines are riper and richer than their decades-old counterparts, but they remain among the most cellarable offerings around.

The talk back then was about what the newly planted Merlots were going to do for our Cabernet Sauvignons. But a funny thing happened on the way to the fermenter, Merlot turned out to have a nice, rich, friendly personality on its own.

We may not have much of it in California vineyards, and what we have very often gets blended into Cabernet Sauvignon, but this grape has structure and character and is worth trying for a nicely differing variation on the theme.

Be on the lookout for Sauvignon Blancs from 2012, especially those made in lighter, fresher styles because they have succeeded in this vintage in ways that makes them one of the great successes of the year.

Once again, Best Buys brings you a collection of carefully selected wines that please the palate and are easy on the wallet. In this Issue, we focus on Chardonnay, Syrah and Petite Sirah.