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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 has been justifiably called California's own, and it takes center stage this month. It is a grape overlooked by the rest of the winemaking world, yet it has a passionate, decidedly devout following, and we count ourselves among its dyed-in-the wool fans. It is responsible for an amazing variety of wines running from candied and cute, pink versions to some that could convincingly pass for ruby port, but when given the attention and winemaking respect typically accorded to Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, it produces unique, entirely compelling, cellar-worthy red wines that have been among our favorites since we learned how to pull corks, and it has consistently proven to deliver terrific bang for the buck. It is, of course, Zinfandel. If its name is never written as big or as brightly on the marquee as its noble French kin, it earns top billing this month, and suffice it to say that our recent tastings have been particularly rewarding.

Simply put, this month's line-up of new Zinfandels is a remarkable bunch. Zin has seemed to be stuck in the marketplace doldrums of late, but this California original is on an unprecedented roll with respect to high quality and is responsible for an absolute wealth of outstanding wines that are anything but boring.

We agree with its advocates who keep touting the virtues of fine west coast Riesling, and we keep waiting for the message to be more broadly heard. Whether vinified in a bone-dry version, one that favors a touch of sweetness or in an opulent, late-harvest, dessert guise, Riesling has a great deal to offer and ranks with the better white wine buys around.

Long a CGCW favorite when it comes to versatility and value, Sauvignon Blanc is reviewed for the second month in a row. Newly arrived 2015s get the spotlight in this issue, and, if the more ambitious bottlings are yet to be released, there is plenty to like in the first wave of wines from the vintage.

The small amount of Semillon that is now grown in California more often than not finds its way into various white blends, but it can make interesting wines on its own, and a tiny handful of west coast producers have stubbornly refused to let if fade into oblivion.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir get the September spotlight in our ongoing feature of well-made wines that are particularly easy on the budget.