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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

The roster of fine, high-quality West Coast wines does not stop with Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay by any means, and varieties that more often quietly wait in the wings get their chance to move to center stage in this month's issue.

Riesling's devotees may be fewer in number than the legions of fans commanded by other, more popular varieties, but they are an especially loyal and vocal bunch, and, as our latest look at Riesling once again attests, there are very good reasons why they should be heard.

No more than one or two exposures to good Gewürztraminer will usually win it new admirers as it is an altogether uniquely singular wine that is as aromatically inviting as they come.

Chenin Blanc's heyday in California may admittedly lie in the past, but very fine bottlings still can be found, and it is not a big reach to argue that the very best are better than ever.

Pinot Gris, whether going by its French or Italian name, is one of the hottest tickets in town, and there is an abundance of very affordable, well-made examples to be had. Some are meant for simple quaffing and others aim for a bit more seriousness.

Great and even very good wines can achieve remarkable beauty with time, and, though most Pinot Noir may not have the stuff to warrant decades of waiting, they can, with patience, accrue extra interest and hold up as well or better than many might think.

Malbec has gotten new attention in recent years, owing in some part to the efforts of Argentina, and it appears that California's vintners are making significant contributions to its rising reputation with some remarkably good, home-grown examples.

The jury is out as to whether or not Petit Verdot will ever occupy more than a small niche in California's portfolio of serious red wines, but there are a handful of wineries that see promise in its ability to produce substantial, solidly built wines with real aging potential.

Barbera is not new to California, but we cannot recall a time when so many producers were looking at it with so serious an eye, and those, in particular, who are working with Barbera grown in the Sierra Foothills are making good on its promise of producing memorable wines.

Good Cabernet Sauvignon rarely comes cheap, but that does not mean that tasty examples are always prohibitively expensive, and the September installment of Best Buys testifies to that fact. Fine buys in Sauvignon Blanc are also featured, as are four, high-achieving, multiple-star-rated Syrahs that are priced for drinking without breaking the monthly budget.