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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

Cabernet Sauvignon is front and center this month, and, as usual, December marks the time of many important new releases. The state's leading white variety, Chardonnay, shares the stage, and, in addition to the several dozen new offerings reviewed, we conclude our retrospective report begun in November and find that older Chardonnays can offer a good deal to like as we turn our attention to a small collection from 2005, 2006 and 2007. Finally, as the season is one that calls for fine sparkling wine, we follow up last month's annual Survey of local bubbly with a quick look at a handful from Champagne.

The last several years have seen a steady parade of exceptional Cabernets, and there is nothing to suggest that things will change any time soon. The bar of achievement just seems to keep getting higher, and more and more makers are proving their mettle in mastering California’s most revered red grape.

There are more than a few reasons for Chardonnay's profusion of fans, and, if it is still without peer when it comes to rich and expressive, full-flavored white wines, it is a variety that continues to show ever increasing refinement.

It may not be the first variety that comes to mind when thinking about wines to lay away for a lengthy stay in the cellar, but it turns out that, not only can Chardonnay survive for a decade or more, it can achieve stunning complexity and surprising beauty with age.

While we disagree with those who believe that world-class sparkling wine begins and ends with Champagne, we admit to liking many of those made in the hallowed Champenoise vineyards northeast of Paris just as much as we do their accomplished West Coast cousins.

Our updated shopping list of especially fine values includes noteworthy bottlings of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot and Sparkling Wine that will bring relief to seasonally strained budgets while at the same time adding to holiday cheer.