In this Wednesday's New York Times Dining section, Eric Asimov writes a column called "The Dining Table Wine School". In it, he asks consultants at two terrific New York wine shops to each put together a mixed case of wine for him, with the total cost of the case not to exceed $250. I agree with him that this is a great way to be exposed to new wines; wine specialists at retail shops, particularly in major metropolitan markets, see thousands of wines a year... more than anyone who is not in the industry is likely to see. Plus, they're surrounded by what's new and interesting in the wine world.
Perhaps demonstrating a little East Coast bias, the 24 bottles include only 3 selections from California (though, reflecting a bit more, maybe that's fair; California does not produce even 10% of the world's wines, so maybe we should be happy with 3 of 24). One of these three wines is the Tablas Creek 2004 Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc.
Even more interesting, to my mind, than the initial column are the 80+ comments debating both the principle of learning about wines in this manner (most, though not all, agree with Asimov that it is an excellent idea) and the makeup of the cases. In any case, we're proud to have been included, and looking forward to his posting of his impressions of the wine (along with all the others) over the coming weeks.