(Oh, Thirsty Day)
Spring is a transitional season and selecting the right spring wine is more about weight than color. The French say the proper spring wine is refreshing and thirst quenching. Spring wines should have a crisp level of acidity, light body and a low alcohol content.
Thirst quenchers, or, as the French say, vin de soif, are basically unpretentious wines that are measured not by their complexity, length or ageability, but by the joy and refreshment they provide. The English have a word for them, too — quaffers.
Although these wines can come from anywhere, most are French natural wines, primarily because Beaujolais, which inspired so many natural wine producers, is the original vin de soif.
So, it shouldn;t come as a surprise that our current favorite thirst quencher is French — Domaine du Bel Air, Bourgueil Jour de Soif to be exact.
In French, Jour de Soif means “Thirsty Day” and this soft, fruit-forward, red delight definitely fits the bill as it is comforting and refreshing.
So what is this Jour de Soif?
Well, it is a delicious Cabernet Franc from Domaine du Bel Air Bourgueil in the Loire Valley region of France. The Domaine is actually in Benais, a 200-hectare area just east of Bourgeuil, and is a certified organic estate that is known for creating traditional deep, age-worthy Cabernet Franc for the past five generations. The Domaine’s vines average 30 years of age–with some as old as 80 years.
Each year, the winemaker makes a super-fresh, early-drinking wine that is meant to be drunk during the first year of release–Jour de Soif– an entry-level cuvée made from 20 year-old vines and aged in stainless steel tanks. Yet, this is no mere vin de soif. Always delicious, it has all of the wonderful things we look for in young Cabernet Franc; dark fruit, soft fine tannins, refreshing finish, a good mineral component.
Bold, pungent and racy, savory herbs, lavender and cloves give this dark, powerful Bourgeuil great character. Fresh and juicy, it is structured, dense and full of personality, not to mention incredibly delicious. Not shy at 14.3 percent alcohol, it would be great for grilled meats. It is a tremendous value.
An alternate choice would be Passetoutgrains from Burgundy. Domaine Vincent Dureuil-Janthal Bourgogne Passetoutgrains, is a blend of pinot noir and gamay, is also a great quaffing wine as is a simple Beaujolais. But we will talk more about that wine at another time.
So, toss some burgers or sausages on the grill, get a rotisserie chicken, make a sandwich, that sort of thing.
Just remember, these wines should be relatively inexpensive and lightly chilled before pouring and your thirsty guests will keep coming back for more.