Former England cricket captain Sir Ian Botham is at Lord’s today to launch a range of wines sourced exclusively from Australia.
An intense cricketing rivalry exists between England and Australia, and Beefy locked horns with their finest stars in several bitterly competitive clashes during his glittering career.
When asked why he chose Australia for his new wines, he told DRN: “Well, I haven’t found much Shiraz, Cabernet and Pinot in England that I actually like. We might do sparkling from England, and some rosé from Provence.
“But I have a massive affiliation with Australia. I’ve been going there since 1975, and I spend at least two months a year there. I have a great passion for Australian wine. My knowledge has increased all the time, and blending these wines has been the icing on the cake.”
He added that he hates “the celebrity wine tag” and that he is serious about these wines, ensuring that nothing is signed off without his approval. He hopes they will still be going strong in many years and that his children and grandchildren will eventually take over.
He added: “We’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with some of the most renowned winemakers in Australia and New Zealand and I truly believe the wines we’ve brought to market are exceptional varietal examples from their respective regions.
“My philosophy going into this was simple. I knew the style of wine I was looking for, and I wanted to bring exceptional but fairly priced wines to market.
“We have focused the first phase of our launch on Australian wines and we are looking forward to presenting new origins and products in the near future – watch this space.”
There are three tiers to the range: Botham All Rounder, retailing at £8.99; The Botham Series, which is expected to sell for £12 per bottle, and the £30 Sir Ian Botham Collection.
The Botham All-Rounder range, comprising a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon, are sourced from various regions across South Eastern Australia.
They bring together parcels from multiple regions to form an “all-rounder” that is designed to appeal to as broad a range of palates as possible.
The Botham Series takes inspiration from important years in Botham’s career. The Margaret River 76 Series Chardonnay commemorates the year in which he made his England debut and his first century.
The Coonawarra 80 Series Cabernet remembers the year when Botham became the first player in Test history to score a century and take 10 wickets in the same match, when he put India to the sword. The Barossa 81 Shiraz pays homage to the year in which he led England to Ashes glory against Australia.
The Sir Ian Botham Collection was made in partnership with Australian winemakers, using small parcels from specific regions.
The Barossa Valley Single Vineyard Shiraz was made with Nick Badrice, chief winemaker at Dorrien Estate and Krondorf.
The Adelaide Hills Chardonnay was blended with head Marty Edwards at The Lane Vineyard and finally, and Geoff Merrill made the Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon.
These three wines are the first to be released under this label and will be sold exclusively through Berry Bros & Rudd and via www.bothamwines.com.
Paul Schaafsma, managing director at distributor Benchmark Drinks, said: “Sir Ian’s relentless enthusiasm and passion to find the best possible wines has driven this project. Together we travelled to all corners of Australia and New Zealand working with only the most respected producers in their regions.
“Ian understood exactly the style and quality he wanted to achieve and was not swayed at any turn. So many blends were rejected in the process, we just didn’t stop looking until the smile appeared on his face that confirmed we had found it. It is incredible the interest we have had from so many top producers who want to be involved.”
Benchmark’s consumer research suggests that 85% of UK wine drinkers are aware of Botham and 38% would hunt out his wines when shopping.
The Botham All-Rounder and The Botham Series wines will be available on general release in “the autumn”.