All tastings reported in the Buying Guide are performed blind. Typically, products are tasted in peer-group flights of from 5-8 samples. Reviewers may know general information about a flight to provide context—vintage, variety or appellation—but never the producer or retail price of any given selection. When possible, products considered flawed or uncustomary are retasted.
*Products deemed unacceptable (receving a rating below 80 points) are not reviewed.
The Pinnacle of quality
A great achievement
Often good value; well recommended
Suitable for everyday consumption, often good value
Can be employed
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Discover New Regions for Carignan
Located in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia both experience an arid, Mediterranean climate. High-altitude vineyards located on both islands are the preferred viticultural sites due to their large diurnal swings, which allow for acid retention and increased freshness. For many years, Sicily's reputation was built on the fortified wine Marsala. But recently, Sicily has gained recognition for its quality table wines. The region’s red wines are quite successful, with notable elegance, sweet tannins and impressive balance. Sicily’s only DOCG, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, is a blend based on the island’s most planted grape, Nero d’Avola, and the grapey Frappato. A strong Spanish influence is evident in Sardinia’s wines — Cannonau (Grenache) and Carignano (Carignan) both have Spanish roots. The white Vermentino, which is also thought to be of Spanish origin, is the main variety in the…
Stretching 250 miles south from the San Francisco Bay to Santa Barbara County is the Central Coast Wine Region, a coastal sprawl responsible for about 15% of California’s total wine production. In the northern parts of the Central Coast, Chardonnay tends to dominate the plantings, with Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon also playing significant roles. The cool, maritime-influenced climate along with the fertile and gravely soil contribute to Chardonnay’s crisp acidity and citrus flavors, and the extended growing season yields concentrated Merlot and Cabernet. Some of the top northern Central Coast AVAs include, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey. South of Monterey, the Paso Robles AVA has garnered fame for its wines produced from Rhône varieties, Cabernet and Zinfandel. At the southern end of the Central Coast, Santa Barbara County (made famous as the backdrop for the…