Impressed by Christopher Gray’s description of the Gavi di Gavi Cru Maddalena he drank while at the Garsington Opera, I decided to revisit this often-overlooked white wine. The Gavi is a small region in Italy Southwest of Milan and offers a zesty alternative to Pinot Grigios. I popped by the Oxford Wine Company, to pick up a bottle of Comprosso Gavid di Gavi, for £11.99. It is a wonderful example of the wine, pale straw in colour, with light aroma of apples. It’s full bodied, with high acidity and minerality giving it crispness. It has a long finish and at only 12.5% ABV, it isn’t too heavy for summer.
However, when I entered the Oxford Wine Company on the Botley Road, I found myself in the middle of a spirits tasting, a mini Summer Spirits fair to be exact. Here I was looking for a summer bevvy and now I have plenty of options.
Alex Clarke, the founder and creator of Babička (pronounced Ba-bitch-ka) Vodka (£29.99) gave me my first taste. Alex started creating flavours when he was managing the Pen in Parsons Green (now Amuse Bouche) in the 1990s. Absolut Vodka was trendy, and he made it more so by adding flavour to the vodka. He filled bottles with strawberries, lime, and melon long before the official “flavoured” vodkas came onto the market and making the Pen, the place to be for London’s fashionistas.
In 2005 Alex developed the concept of wormwood vodka. Named after the mysterious “witch” women who blended potions and used wormwood for healing, Babička is made in a Czech Republic, 500 year old distillery well know for refining vodka and absinthe.
The aroma is initially sweet, liquorice and the flavour has traces of mint, vanilla, and the slightly bitter wormwood. This can easily be drunk on its own, or with soda water and a slice of grapefruit as a tall drink.
After that rather strong start, I moved onto Fragola, a wild strawberry liqueur that is absolutely lush by itself and amazing when mixed with Prosecco. It is the perfect drink for Wimbledon. The strawberries grow wild in the Alps and are tiny and full of intense flavour, a nice surprise at the end of the glass.
My final drink for summer was the Mandarine Napoleon (orange liqueur) and ginger ale with a twist of lime. It is refreshing and energetic. Perfect for barbecues, picnics or lounging by the river in the sun.
Aljoscha Wright, the assistant manager of the Oxford Wine Company on the Botley Road said, “The event was highly successful, with customers trying new brands. We will almost certainly be listing the Fragola and hopefully a few others.”
With my liquor cabinet now well stocked- all I need is some sun.