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5 Wines That Will Blow Your Mind

After 29 years on Buffalo Bayou, the Rainbow Lodge recently relocated to the ­century-old log house on the banks of the White Oak bayou where Tour d'Argent was once located. The fancy French restaurant never did seem to mesh very well with the rustic location, but it's the perfect place to hang all the deer heads and fishing rods that decorate the walls of the Rainbow Lodge, a restaurant that has always specialized in fish and wild game. Tim Neely is the "wine guy" there, and we asked him what he recommends with this kind of food.

 

Tim Neely: Famous labels are great. The big houses offer a certain level of consistency, but I guess I have a little bit of the "what have you done for me lately" attitude about wine. It's what is in the bottle that really speaks to me, not what's on the label. Here's five wines that will blow your mind:

Tim Neely doesn't judge a wine by its bottle.
Daniel Kramer
Tim Neely doesn't judge a wine by its bottle.

 

$15 or less

Cuvée Anne-Laure, 2005 Gewürz­traminer

Alsace, France

Made from 100 percent Gewürztraminer, this is a perfect wine to keep around for all-purpose drinking. It is a medium-­bodied wine with nice floral and spicy aromas, and whether you are hanging out on the patio or watching the game, it is just right for any occasion. I love this with our blue cheese fries.

 

$30 or less

Laird Family Estate, 2006 Cold Creek Ranch Pinot Gris

Carneros, California

This is not your grandmother's Pinot Grigio. It's exciting from start to finish, from the citrus and mineral nose, to the grapefruit and green apple fruit, to the creamy long finish. I would even serve this one to my mother-in-law, especially if she was having a mild fish like pan-roasted ­halibut.

 

$60 or less

Bergstrom, 2005 Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir

Willamette Valley, Oregon

I recently attended an Oregon Pinot tasting, and this wine hit a home run. A blend of ten Willamette Valley vineyards, it's a great example of what Oregon has to offer. I would highly recommend this wine with venison. It's a little young, and it needs a few minutes to open, but when it gets there, it will knock your socks off!

 

$120 or less

Yalumba, 2002, The Octavius

Barossa Valley, Australia

This one is a monster, a big, bold Barossa Valley Shiraz. Fire up the grill and get some red meat sizzling. I recommend this with our Buffalo tenderloin — nobody's been disappointed yet. It has great aromas of figs and blackberries with incredible balance. Buy a bottle, but don't worry if you don't get to drink it right away; this wine will be good for a long time to come.

Unlimited

Château Lafite Rothschild, 1985

Pauillac, France

This is the wine that "popped my cherry." Even though it has been about 16 years since I tasted this one, I can still recall the incredible balance and velvety texture. Just thinking about it makes me want to track down a bottle, but it will have to wait until next year's tax refund.

 
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