Food and Drink 

Cool wines for a warm summer

We need to be more proactive about summer if we ever hope to experience a few weeks of heat and sunshine. You can buy some sunscreen and put on shorts, but maybe what's really required is a small cache of summer wines ready to be chilled and opened at the first sign of sun and a temperature that creeps above 19 C.

Call me crazy, but when the longest day of the year has come and gone and most wet coasters are still awaiting the signs of summer, we need to take action.

Today's wine picks should change your mindset and just maybe have the required effect on the weather.

The good news is we have a terrific selection of lighter, brighter, fresher wines to choose from in the British Columbia market and, frankly, it's never been better or cheaper.

The key, as always, is acidity which brings freshness and less alcohol, allowing the wine to express its delicate floral, mineral notes that make a summer white, red or rosé a thing of beauty in the glass.

We begin with Gassier 2010 Rosé Sables d'Azur $16 from Provence. Many would say the quintessential rosé come from Provence, and its pale pink "eye-of-the-partridge" colour draws you magically toward the glass. In this case, you'll discover wonderful floral, earthy, citrus, mineral and cherries aromas and flavours with a fresh, soft, easy-sipping palate. It's the perfect patio pink. Serve it solo or use its firm, dry, citrus, cherry flavours to accompany grilled fish or summer salads. Serious value.

Perhaps the wine category best positioned to make a bit of noise with consumers this summer is the white wines of the Rhone Valley. Trading off the popularity of Rhone reds which are very hot at the moment, the curious mix of grenache blanc, bourboulenc, marsanne, roussanne, viognier and others, all in varying degrees of percentages, is finding traction with food lovers.

Case in point: the Louis Bernard 2009 Côtes du Rhône Blanc Villages Blanc $15 . Expect an expressive floral, honey, apricot, lemon and quince-scented nose to bolster its juicy, round, slightly fat palate as well as honey, pear, apricot and butter flavours. This is another white wine seemingly made for the wealth of seafood we have available to us on the coast. Crazy value if you like dry wine.

What can you say about a wine called Smart Grasshopper 2010 Grüner Veltliner $13 ? It's a fun little wine with a great story.

First off, grüner is for wine aficionados, meaning it's bone dry and fairly austere, but the minerality and mere whiff of stony fruit make it fun to drink with oysters and shell fish. The grasshopper is clever enough to select some leaves to eat and leave others alone. In this case, they don't like grüner veltliner leaves and leave them alone. To a wine grower, that is one smart grasshopper.


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