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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

This month's spotlight shines on the latest California efforts with the five principal red grapes of Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. There is no question but that Cabernet Sauvignon has been and remains California's greatest vinous success story, yet the same sunny landscape that has fostered its remarkable achievements hereabouts has proven to be a most hospitable home for its close cousins as well. Its place at the head of the class is not threatened, but wine lovers looking for something new and a bit different will find plenty to like in its extended family. 

Napa Valley may still be the epicenter for great California Cabernet Sauvignons as this latest edition so clearly confirms, but there are fine examples to be found from Santa Barbara to Mendocino. The recent string of vintages in the state has been exceptional, and to say that contemporary Cabernet Sauvignon is at the top of its game is an understatement.

Yes, Merlot's image has been a bit tarnished of late, but it is still the third most-planted red wine variety in the state, and, when crafted with care and grown in the right place, it can produce wonderfully satisfying wines of great depth and range.

Although hardly a newcomer to California, Cabernet Franc is getting a bit more attention from high-achieving winemakers and a little more respect both as a blending component and a solo performer. Those in this issue from Blackbird, Daou, I Mille and Lang & Reed drive home the point.

Argentina put Malbec on the international map, and it has gained unexpected legions of fans throughout the world. Whether or not it catches on as a significant variety here remains to be determined, but a few high-end producers have made very good versions that convince that it at least has a place.

The lion's share of Petit Verdot that is grown in California is an anonymous cast member that adds tannin and heft to multi-varietal blends. It can be heady stuff on its own, and the results have been mixed when so bottled.

Recent favorites in Syrah, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Chardonnay are this month's featured, fine-value wines, and they are as easy on the pocketbook as they are pleasing on the palate.