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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 Grenache
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…
Due to the diverse range of microclimates, soils and maturation techniques, there are vast stylistic differences among the wines of Northern Spain. The wines of Spain’s leading red wine region, Rioja DOCa, are constructed predominantly from Tempranillo with smaller percentages of Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano to fill out the blend. Classical Rioja yields muted red fruit flavors with accents of vanilla and dried dill due to the time spent in American oak. Southwest of Rioja in the Castilla y León autonomía lies the Ribera del Duero DO, a region characterized by its continental climate and vast diurnal swings. Producing wines that are darker and often more intense than Rioja, Ribera del Duero’s blends must contain a minimum 75% of Tinto Fino (the local clone of Tempranillo) with Garnacha and often a touch of international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot…