Chardonnay
Tasted: 269 I Reviewed: 63
Austria
Tasted: 125 I Reviewed: 40
Tuscany
Tasted: 294 I Reviewed: 118
Castilla y León
Tasted: 33 I Reviewed: 58
American New Releases
Tasted: 378 I Reviewed: 102
Imported New Releases
Tasted: 123 I Reviewed: 53
Total
Tasted: 1,247 I Reviewed: 409

Our tastings for April focus on wines in restaurants, the varieties and regions you're likely to find when dining out. And the wine that remains on top of that list is chardonnay, the most popular variety in American restaurants. We've given up trying to generalize about California chardonnay, as we've found great wines from the mountain vineyards and ocean-front sites, blends from the warm Napa Valley and single vineyard selections from cooler zones of the Central Coast. You'll find chardonnay for oysters and chardonnay for roast veal among our best of the year (p. 110).

Austrian whites have become a sommelier passion over the last few years, with grüner veltliners and riesling from the Wachau-Kremstal-Kamptal triangle finding their ways onto a range of lists. Tara Q. Thomas provides those reviews, starting on page 118. We increasingly find lists with an eclectic page of white wines, placing these dry Austrians next to Loire whites from Sancerre to Savennières (p.140), Oregon pinot gris and Finger Lakes rieslings (p. 133).

Then there are the sommelier staples, like Tuscan reds. We tasted 294, from simple, light Chiantis for red-sauced pasta to monumental Brunello di Montalcinos for power dinners with steak. And we continue to be impressed with how sangiovese itself has transformed the ancient vineyards of Tuscany, taking on the formidable challenge of cabernet- and merlot-based wines (p. 121). In Spain, the transformation has come by way of tempranillo, or tinto fino as it's called in Ribera del Duero and the surrounding vineyards of Castilla y León, the source for some of the country's best new wines (p. 130).

Thanks to all the sommeliers who tasted with us for this issue - among them Jeremy Noyes of Babbo, Roger Dagorn of Chanterelle and Eric Vreede of Absinthe, just to name a few. They, like us, appreciate the opportunity to taste wines blind, and to consider how well they perform in a field of their peers. It's the only way to separate the hype from reality, something we believe our two-step, blind tasting process does extremely well. For a complete description of how we taste, with panels of sommeliers and retail buyers recommending the wines and individual critics providing ratings and perspectives on those selections, see page 113.