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Five That'll Blow Your Mind

Wine is supposed to be relaxing, not anxiety-inducing. So how do you pick a wine from all those pages and pages of foreign names on the wine list and all those mysterious labels on the shelf at the wine store? And how do you know when it's a good value? Do what I do — get advice from somebody who is smarter than you.

This week, we asked Shepard Ross, general manager and wine guru at Glass Wall, for the names of Five Wines That'll Blow Your Mind.

Shepard Ross: I did a wine dinner with Stephan Asseo a few years back, and I have been a convert ever since. The winery is in Paso Robles, and it's called L'Aventure. Yeah, it's expensive stuff, but his wines are like Halle Berry — they get more gorgeous every year. The guy is a true phenom. He has also converted his entire operation to solar power, making great wine and saving the world from global warming to boot. What a guy!

Here's a wine from L'Aventure and a few other favorites. All prices are retail, and most of the wines should be available from wine merchants in the Houston area.

$15 or less

White

2005 Lo Brujo, Macabeo

Calatayud, Spain

Fun, easy to drink, crisp, with hints of citrus and banana. Soft, round mouth feel, but still has some nice acidity.

$30 or less

Red

2003 Russian Hill Estate Pinot Noir

Russian River Valley

Punches your nose with boysenberries, a bit of earth and a bright-red raspberry note, finishing with some plum. Nice layers and complexity for the money.

$60 or less

Red

2002 Robert Young Scion

Alexander Valley

Perfectly blended Cabernet, Cabernet Franc and Merlot — a beautifully complex wine. Mocha, cherries and a touch of coconut (yes, coconut) on the nose. Chocolate, dark cherry and some tobacco on the palate. Broad tannins coat your mouth without being overly dry. Even better than the '01.

$120 or less

Red

2004 L'Aventure Estate Cuvee

Paso Robles

Incredible blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Plums and blackberry on the nose, followed by deep, dark, luscious fruit on your palate. Some tobacco as well. Intense, inky, eggplant color in the glass. Guaranteed teeth stainer! (That's a good thing.)

Unlimited

Red

2003 Hundred Acre Vineyard,

Cabernet Sauvignon

Kayli Morgan Vineyard, Napa

I was lucky enough to have had a bottle with friends in San Francisco. Wow.Worth the hype. Winemaker Philippe Melka strikes again. I am a huge fan of his Metisse proprietary red, but this is in a whole new league. It has a dark, purple color, with layers upon layers of vanilla, roasted coffee, cherry, spices, on the nose alone. Sweet, intense, ripe red fruit with moderate tannins. An absolute explosion of taste.

 
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