Three unexpected wines that are perfect patio fare.
When I imagine a bottle of white emerging from a frigid patio ice bucket on a hot summer day, it's a bottle from France's Loire Valley. The expected choice is Sancerre, the region's hard-edged, minerally star, or Vouvray, the age-worthy wonder from Chenin Blanc grapes, but increasingly I'm seeking out the lesser-known white wonders from the region: Muscadet, Touraine and Pouilly-Fumé. Notwithstanding their charms, they've always been a tough sell: the sauvignon blanc-based Pouilly-Fumé sounds like the more famous chardonnay-based Pouilly-Fuissé, and Muscadet sounds like both the grapes muscat and muscadelle. (It contains neither.) These wines don't get much of the spotlight and it's a shame, because they pair well with almost everything from sunscreen to sanddabs. Muscadet The greatest expression of the Melon de Bourgogne grape should be simple and affordable, bracingly cold and served with a dozen oysters and a view. Try2009 Haut-Censy Muscadet Sèvre and Maine Sur Lie ($15). Pouilly-Fumé Sancerre's immediate neighbour can deliver wines that have a flinty first impression with secondary minor richness that benefits from a few years in the bottle. Try 2010 Domaine Laporte Les Duchesses ($30). Touraine Think of this as baby Vouvray. Both are chenin blanc, both come in sec (dry) or demi sec (half dry), and while Touraine is not as age worthy, it's easier on the wallet. Try 2010 Domaine Du Clos Du Bourg Demi Sec ($15).