Whether or not you are an avid cricket fan, glued to the telly with every Test Match, or cheering on the team at Lord’s cricket ground, most people will have heard of the almost legendary English cricketer, Ian Botham.
An outstanding player with both bat and ball, his professional cricket career spanned 20 years, having started work as a groundsman at Lord’s cricket ground at the age of 16. He became one of England’s best known and most successful cricketers, until his retirement in 1993.
Since that time, Sir Ian has been heavily involved in fund-raising activities for charity, and he was knighted in 2007 for services to both cricket and charity.
But on Friday last week, one of Sir Ian’s other passions came to light, with the launch of his own brand of wines. And where else could it take place, but at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Travelling the world for over 40 years, he has always had a passion for wine and a growing desire to create his own range of wines. This has now come to fruition and the first range of wines, which are Australian, was unveiled on Friday, July 27, with supplies being available in the UK in the next couple of months.
Sir Ian said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to reveal my new wines and to have had the opportunity to work with the team at Benchmark Drinks in developing the range. Together, 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 bought to market are exceptional varietal examples from their respective regions.”
The idea is to blend wines in order to produce a particular style, which is both appealing and affordable. The range is aimed at three different quality levels. The first level, named the All Rounder range, is set to retail at around £9 per bottle. The Botham Series range, up a notch in terms of quality, will be around £12 and the premium range called the ‘Sir Ian’ range, will retail at £30 per bottle. These latter wines are from small parcels of exceptional wines, made by top wine-makers and will be available exclusively through Berry Brothers and Rudd in London.
Benchmark Drinks, the distributor of the range, has undertaken extensive research, and believes that the reassurance given by the association of the wines with Sir Ian Botham, will be a winning formula. The emphasis is more about the reassurance of an up-standing individual than the pure celebrity aspect, although this will also undoubtedly have a positive effect on marketing.
The Botham Series wines are a selection of premium regional wines from some of Sir Ian’s favourite winemaking spots in Australia.
Each one of the wines in the series are given a number that represents a year that is memorable to Sir Ian. The Barossa 81 Series Shiraz is, of course, in memory to the year that Botham singlehandedly took the Ashes from the formidable Australian team. The Margaret River 76 Series Chardonnay is in honour of Sir Ian’s ‘year of 1st’s’ in cricket. It was the first time he scored 1,000 runs one season, achieved his first century and was first selected to play for England at the tender age of 20.
The Coonawarra 80 Series Cabernet Sauvignon pays homage to an important year in Sir Ian’s cricketing career. It was in this year that he became the first player in test history to score a century and take 10 wickets in the same match.
But the story doesn’t stop there. Already plans are afoot for a range from New Zealand in the near future and wines from other countries such as Spain, are actively being considered.
In Sir Ian’s own words at the launch: “Life’s not all about cricket”.
Look out for the range this Autumn.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.
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