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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

West Coast vintners' endeavors with Rhône varieties are showing new sophistication with each passing vintage, and, while capably capturing the richness inherent in each, these are wines that exhibit more polish and complexity than ever before.

Among the most out-and-out inviting and delectable of the Rhône reds, Grenache is a wine that we have been watching for some time, and the exciting new bunch that has made its way to our tasting table is cause for real celebration

Well-made Syrah can be very serious stuff, and this month's collection of new worthies warrants serious attention. There are examples made for cellaring and others that provide tasty drinking right now, and the across-the-board quality is striking.

Grown throughout Southern France, Mouvèdre has slowly taken hold here in California and has become an important component of a good many savory blends.

Wines made from Carignane, especially those sourced from very old, "heritage" sites are a hearty bunch ideally suited for pairing with hearty roasts, braises and stews.

Cinsault makes unexpectedly delicate and graceful wines and is sure to come as a surprise to those that think all Rhônish reds are big, beefy and robust.

With its intoxicating perfume of flowers and fruit, Viognier is, when well-made, a wonderfully rich wine that is lovely on its own or when matched up with food.

We see a few more bottlings of Grenache Blanc with each new vintage, but more than any other of its pale Rhône relations, Grenache Blanc in California is a work still in progress.

Although Roussanne is usually combined with other white varieties, its rich, slightly honeyed qualities come clearly through, and occasional, unblended bottlings can impress with their richness, structure and fruity strength.

Relatively scarce in California and, like Roussanne, almost always employed in blends, Marsanne makes rich and weighty wines of which we have occasionally been impressed.

Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and a handful of reprised Chardonnay favorites head up the March edition of Best Buys and, if all offer fine value, more than a few are unqualified steals.