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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

New Chardonnays get top billing in May, and we are reminded that forty years ago this month the local version garnered top honors in the now-legendary "Judgment of Paris" and alerted the world that something special was going on in California vineyards. Back then, Zinfandel was not on the global radar and received little attention outside of its west coast home, but it has steadily gained impassioned adherents over the years and, as this issue's featured wines confirm, the top Zinfandel bottlings are world-class wines in every respect. We also take a quick look at recent Barbera releases and are increasingly impressed by the quality exhibited by the growing number of well-made offerings.

2014 looks to be the third consecutive outstanding vintage in California, and, while we will have to wait to see just how good the Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs will be, the first wave of serious 2014 Chardonnays suggests that winemaker enthusiasm has not been misplaced.

Zinfandel has a following of particularly passionate fans, and we think there should be more. The too-many, excessively alcoholic, over-the-top renditions have happily been on the decline as of late, and deeply satisfying versions abound. The top bottlings reviewed in this issue deserve the attention of red wine lovers of every stripe.

Its naturally high acidity earns good Barbera a place at our table with all sorts of tomatoey pastas and barbecued fare, and, with the recent discovery of more than a few tasty examples, we rather expect that it will be making a regular appearance when the menu is right.

It may be true that Cabernet Sauvignon commands top-dollar in the market, but it does not necessarily need to break the budget. Our Best Buy roster for May includes enjoyable efforts priced for regular drinking as well as noteworthy values in Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.