Gazosa La Fiorenzana: Mirtillo

History: What if I told you there is a little soda bottler out there still making its concoctions in refillable bottles like the old days? What if I told you it’s a family business in its fourth generation? What if I told you they use real ingredients and don’t even have a marketing budget, relying only on word-of-mouth publicity? Are you getting the nostalgia tingles yet? Is your small business radar blinging like a Drake song? Gazosa La Fiorenzana is a small, family-owned Swiss soda bottler located in the Grono village of the Grisons canton that’s been making their products the same way since 1921. Five Star Soda was the first American media outlet to review one of its beverages back in August of 2015. Stephen Keller is an ex-fútbol player formerly of FC Zurich and founder of Plopenzisch, “the official dealer of Gazosa in the Benelux and parts of Germany.” After trying Gazosa for the first time in a Zurich bar in 2002, Keller began importing the Swiss soda to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. “Our flavors are pure and old fashioned, please don’t expect any mixes or addition of vanilla or anything,” he says. The company was started by Francesco Tonna, who introduced four original flavors: Pompelmo (grapefruit), Limone (lemon), Mandarino (mandarin orange), and Lampone (raspberry). Keller tells us four more flavors were added between the years of 1940 and 1964 by Tonna’s daughter Matilda Tonna and his son Gianni Ponzio. One of those flavors includes today’s review, mirtillo, which is Italian for blueberry. Keller describes it to us as “Alpine blueberry soda,” which sounds fancy and makes us all like it more. The wild alpine blueberry is about a quarter of the size of an average blueberry. According to Keller, mirtillo is a popular regional flavor in Switzerland and is used in gelato, cakes, jams, and syrups. Kind of sounds like the equivalent of grape or strawberry in America. While mirtillo may be popular in Switzerland, most soda flavors outside of America contain some sort of citrus element, as do a majority of Gazosa’s – so this is certainly a unique international treat. It’s always refreshing to see a company that still does things the same way after decades and decades – probably a good sign for the customer. Also, this is perhaps the most beautiful hue of blue we’ve ever seen in a soda. It looks like it could give you magical powers. We’ll let you know if we land a superhero movie deal after sampling.

Where to get: Sorry, Americans – Gazosa sodas are distributed only in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany where they are available in many cafes and restaurants.

Nose: Fresh blueberry bushes; crisp snow melt. Ever smelled freshly melted snow in the woods and how clean it smells? There’s a crispness on the nose of this. Delightful.

Taste: Fresh blueberries; brisk carbonation; tartness. There’s a very natural, rich floral blueberry taste to this with a carbonation that is very distinct. The bubbles are light, but immense. Definitely an old-fashioned soda trick and a very fun mouth feel. The blueberry here is layered. Sometimes it’s sweet. Sometimes it’s a little sour. Kind of like eating a bowl of blueberries, honestly. This is bold enough to satisfy the taste buds, yet light enough to encourage finishing the entire bottle. I taste a little bite of a wildcard flavor accompanying some sips: mint, almost like a wintergreen. It’s definitely a blueberry mint taste, but it’s there. Maybe we can agree to just calling it an earthy note. Wouldn’t mind seeing that scaled back a little. Gazosa’s Mirtillo tastes natural, refreshing, and tart.

Finish: Tart blueberry with the slightest undertones of sugar. Imagine biting into a more sour blueberry and then following it up with a mildly sweet one.

Rating: Made with blueberries from the Alps, Gazosa’s Mirtillo Soda is the most natural-tasting blueberry soda we’ve come across thus far. Just like the fruit, some sips are refreshingly sweet, while others are earthy and sour. This is a soda with all parts working in tandem. The flavor is as delightful and the packaging. Gazosa has engineered their swing-top bottles in a way that dates back hundreds of years. One crucial design element I found was this: the mouth of the bottle is made with extra thick glass that reduces the amount of liquid per sip. With less soda per drink, I found myself inspecting the flavors more instead of just instinctually slurping down the liquid that filled my mouth. I’m not sure if this is by design, but it really allows the drinker to think about the flavor profile. Outside of the soda’s pleasant blueberry flavor, its biggest achievement is maintaining a tart flavor without being acidic. That’s a hard line to tow for most soda bottlers. Also a hard line to tow for most women… in my experience. Blueberry is a flavor that is finally starting to see the light of day in the craft soda world, and Gazosa out of Switzlerand is already ahead of the game on this one. To that we say, gut gemacht, Gazosa.

Four Stars