Pick a peck of patio picks 

Lighter, fresher wines to spark that patio party

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Summer, sunshine, friends, patio wines and bites to eat. It makes me want to leave the office now. As temperatures peak and patios and decks heat up across the Whistler area, our living space gets incrementally bigger allowing parties to spill out-of-doors onto the patio al fresco style.

The question is what does one serve in the heat of summer that can make you forget the reds of winter, especially if you want to be seen as a savvy, on-your-game, wine drinker?

Your guideline should be lighter, fresher style wines that leap (at least a bit) from the glass.

Stylistically, the wines break down into two main categories; namely the pure varietal or un-wooded style with its crisp, fresh acidity or lightly oaked versions with some combination of barrel- and tank-fermented juice that results in a slightly richer and more complex flavour spectrum while still retaining an appealing freshness.

It's not all white wine either — rosés and lighter reds are making inroads into the summer wine scene.

That said, summer is made for sipping wines, at the least, but it doesn't hurt if the wine is, well, gulp-able.

By now you get the picture so relax, have fun and experiment.

To that end we want to kick start your patio party with a bunch of simply delicious wines that, most importantly, are affordable.

We know pinot gris in B.C. so I'm not exaggerating when I say the Bodega Lurton Pinot Gris 2011 $13 from Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina is one of the best white wine buys on the planet. This winery has been grossly underrepresented in Canada for too many years but don't let that stop you from tracking down this delicious and affordable wine. The 2011 is a little lower in alcohol which only highlights its aromatic nose and pristine flavours of ripe yellow fruits all with a dash of lees for complexity. Balanced, fresh and persistent, it really over delivers for its price.

Lurton in the south of France is home to the Francois Lurton Les Fumées Blanches 2008 $13. The latest from Lurton still over delivers for the price with its fresh, smoky, citrus mineral nose that suggests a wine of nearly twice the price. The attack is fresh and clean with a kiwi, melon, gooseberry flavour profile that runs through its grassy finish. Balanced, refreshing and crazy value, it's sold under screwcap. You should back up the truck and load up. Clams, anyone?

A wine such as Alain Brumont Gros Manseng-Sauvignon 2010 $16 can turn around your wine palate and get you headed in a new, more positive space. The Brumont mixes gros manseng and sauvignon from the Gascogne region and the result is a fresh, grassy, mineral white flecked with bits of lemon and pear, gooseberry, honey and quince. Love the intensity and juicy mid-palate in what is a quaffable white wine of considerable interest with food. Clams, mussels, crab will all work here. Good value.

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