Boxer Gin Review. Punchy or Paunchy?

I mean, when a gin’s called Boxer, how am I meant to avoid the most bloody obvious metaphor? Christ. Give me something to work with. Fortunately, Boxer Gin does exactly that, in abundance, as soon as you get it into your gob. Here’s how it measures up.

I bought Boxer Gin because it was the gin of choice at Poco Tapas Bar, the excellent Bristolian tapas restaurant at which I first discovered the Negroni Manzanilla. And given my predilection for punchy gins and stooping to lowest-common-denominator wordplay, what could be more auspicious than a gin that is literally punchy?

You know how this works by now, right? I’ll taste Boxer Gin in a martini and a gin & tonic, and I’ll tell you what I think. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

The Boxer Gin Martini

Yes. This is very good.

First thing you need to know: this is a proper gin. That means it has a good whack of juniper and isn’t trying anything fancy. That’s good. There’s an assertive oomph to the Boxer Gin Martini that I resoundingly commend.

But while the juniper and pine shenanigans make it abundantly clear it’s a gin martini you’re drinking, there’s a background of rather wonderful, unexpected things. Imagine you’re in a restaurant you’ve not eaten at before. You ordered steak (my, how bold of you) and it’s perfectly cooked: rare, yielding, delicious: exactly as steak should be. A few mouthfuls in, you notice they’re playing a fabulous piece of — oh, I dunno, Prokofiev — in the background. Not loudly; in fact, at exactly the right volume. So that the people who don’t give a shit about Prokofiev (fools) won’t really notice it much.

But you. You, my dear, exquisitely tasteful reader. You will appreciate the crap out of it.

This is not an attention-seeking, look-at-me gin, in other words. It bares its sophistication subtly and with elegance.

The Boxer Gin Martini is fairly smooth, and while characterised by juniper and pine and citrus initially, it has a delicious spiciness: the warm, aromatic spices like cinnamon and pepper and nutmeg. Perhaps the merest sprinkling of anise? Yeah, perhaps.

You’re drinking your martini ice-cold, I hope, so the spice will be very much in the background, but as you near the bottom (of your glass, as opposed to your moral and spiritual decline), you may notice that it comes through more assertively.

Boxer Martini Verdict

Verdict: Neck it!

That’s no excuse to linger, though. A martini that’s lost its frigidity is a sorrowful thing. Gulp the bugger down and let’s move on to…

The Boxer Gin and Tonic

Very good also: I approve. The elegance I admired in the martini is present here too. The citrus elements make more impact with a Boxer G&T than with some of the hoofers I commonly reach for (the Wine Society’s High Strength Gin, par exemple, or our old friend Tanqueray), but there’s still plenty of juniper to keep us tethered. And those same warm spices come through — perhaps more so than in the martini, but by no means aggressively. It’s all wonderfully balanced (a nimble-footed, deceptively graceful boxer, then, rather than a thuggish slugger).

There’s a beguiling touch of sweetness (very subtle, but there) while it’s in your gob, but don’t get carried away: the finish is dry as you like. Assuming you’re using the right tonic (Fever Tree Light, I implore you).

Boxer Gin & Tonic Verdict

Verdict: Neck it!

I’d probably gravitate towards lemon as the best garnish for a Boxer Gin and Tonic, but if you want to amp up the spices, you could be all wanky about it and shove a cinnamon stick in there (in your glass I mean. Shove it right in your glass. Your GLASS, I said) or black peppercorns.

Just don’t, for the sake of the weeping lord Jesus, use already ground pepper, like the idiots in some bar I went to, a few months back.

I’ll not be going back.

Anyway:

Boxer Gin Verdict

Excellent. This isn’t a wild, out-there gin, as you’ve probably gathered, and I like it all the more for that. It is balanced and has an admirable classicism. I’d sit it in the vague proximity of 6 o’Clock Gin (another handsome blue bottled gin) and Adnam’s — gins that make an excellent, rounded, mellow G&T that has unusual complexities and exotic qualities but doesn’t shove them up your GLASS.

It’d make a nice house gin for someone who’s too cool for the gins they stock in big supermarkets but still wants something versatile and classical.

If I were a tiresome wanker, you know how I’d close this?

I’d say it punches well above its weight.

You’re welcome. Now piss off.

A beautiful, elegant, lithe Pinot Noir — with a glimmer of filth in its eye

… is elegant and lithe and beautiful and charming as you like — but with that little glimmer of filth in its eye.

Close-up of the yellow label of a bottle of 2007 Pinot Noir from Martinborough VineyardsOkay. Let’s sprint through this one, shall we?

Pinot fucking noir. To get one thing out of the way: I love pinot noir. Christ alive, I love it. And this pinot noir is bloody delicious.

That’s probably all you need to know, isn’t it?

In case you’re still reading — rather than bombing down the A1 towards Stevenage in a hijacked articulated lorry in order to ramraid The Wine Society’s warehouse — I’ll give you a bit more. (And, um, they’ve sold out in any case. So save yourself the criminal record.)

It’s got that brilliant pinot noir tautness — a lithe-bodied, gymnastic suppleness — that I find goddamn bewitching. Then add that little spatter of muckiness. Oh, that sweet little spatter. Because this wine is as elegant and lithe and beautiful and charming as you like — but there’s that hint of filth in its eye. Goddamn.

So, yes, there’s the mellow red fruit, the ripeness. And there’s the earth, the muck, the sex.

Yup.

Rating ★★★★★ 5 stars (outstanding)
Grape Pinot Noir
Region Martinborough
Price £25 or so from The Wine Society (no longer available, sadly, but you might want to try the ‘second wine’ from the same producer); or Majestic has the 2009 for £30; £24 each if you buy a couple. Which you should.

Spy Valley Riesling review

… doesn’t have that too-big-for-its-clingy-dress quality that some New World Rieslings have, thank the risen Lord

A glass of wine photographed close up and misted with condensationGod alive, I love Riesling. Did I mention that before? Oh, fuck it, I don’t really care if I did.

And Spy Valley. We all remember Spy Valley Gewurtztraminer, right? Well, this is the Spies’ take on the Riesling grape. And — what do you know? — they made a good job of it: this wine is elegant, poised, fresh.

Grapefruit is (I’ll warrant) what you’ll notice caroming vengefully out of the glass towards you. Both nose-wise and in your mouth. And, yes, there’s that dab of sweetness that I hardly even want to mention because a woeful number of people are unaccountably terrified of the notion of a tiny dab of sweetness. I mean, Christ. This is the same civilisation which unaccountably fetishises bloody chocolate for pity’s sake. Ooh! Chocolate! So decadent! So sinful!

Get a life, generic viagra online overnight delivery won’t you?

But, yes, anyhow. This is a Riesling with balance. It doesn’t hang around in your gob quite as long as some Rieslings, but it’s not a flash in the pan, either. And not an ounce of the sweetness cloys. Not a sodding ounce.

This is a lot better than many of its ilk. It’s not monstrously complex, but it’s incredibly smooth and clean and beguiling. It doesn’t have that too-big-for-its-clingy-dress quality that some (overripe, over-alcoholled) New World Rieslings have. And I like it a fair old bit. But it’s quite expensive. Spend that much on a German Riesling and you could get an absolute goddamn blinder.

Or spend it all on chocolate, if you prefer. You massive great weirdo.

Rating ??? 3 stars (good)
Region Marlborough
Grape Riesling
ABV 13%
Price £9.95 from The Wine Society, £12.06 from Bibendum

Domaine du Salvard Cheverny 2009 review

… is a welcome contrast to some Sauvignon Blancs, that are a bit like ketamine-laced teenagers, spoiling for whatever it is ketamine-laced teenagers spoil for

A bottle of Domaine du Salvard — typical French wine label, signed by Delaille

Ah, that’s rather a lovely Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. There’s the grass and the snap of it — but also a swoonsome waft of blossom. Suck’n’swirl and you may find yourself encountering bit of sweet, toffeed, fudgy stuff in there.

It’s quite soft, even if you let it linger — in contrast to some Sauvignon Blancs, that are a bit like ketamine-laced teenagers, water pill vs lasix spoiling for whatever it is ketamine-laced teenagers spoil for. You’ve seen them. The rap singers.

Yeah. It’s gently, restrained. Not too harsh or zingy — it nibbles rather than bites. Elegant. And fine, fine value for thy wodge.

Rating ???? 4 stars (very good)
Region Loire
Grape Sauvignon Blanc
ABV 12%
Price £7.50 from The Wine Society (link is to 2010 vintage, as 2009 is sold out)

Le Fraghe 2009, Bardolino Review

… will light up all the buzzers on the pinball table of your palate. For under a tenner.

Closeup of the lettering on a bottle of Le Fraghe, an Italian red wineLe Fraghe. A wee blend of two grapes: corvina and rondinella. From somewhere between Venice and Milan.

And if it has Venice’s sunset-laced romance, it also has Milan’s fashionable, metropolitan elegance.

It’s gentle, toned, soft, pristine.

And it’s rather beautiful.

In your mouth, it’s full — yet light, elegant. There’s some subdued tannin; some savouriness, some meaty depth, some spice, liquorice. And a sustained, beautifully controlled diminuendo to finish.

Stick your snout in there and inhale the cooked (but not jammy) red fruits of a summer pudding.

Verdict

I really enjoyed La Fraghe. It’s a wine that lights up all the buzzers on the pinball table of your palate. And I’d say it’s pretty damn good value for under a tenner.

Crack it out with food — nothing too honky or flavoursome, mind; probably lighter meats, fish — simple, honest ingredients, please; simply, honestly cooked …

… and (pooph!) you’re right there between Venice and Milan.

Rating ???? (4 stars)
ABV 12%
Price £8.95 from The Wine Society