I’m a bit of a cricket tragic. I’m one of “those” people that can sit there and watch a five day test very happily.
I think what I love about the game so much is that it’s one of the few, if not the only game, where everyone will sledge the opposition player, but then applaud that same player loudly for a well-played shot, or when that person rockets a near unplayable ball down the pitch and you hear that rattle of stumps.
Some of my happiest Christmas’s have all been about how well the Aussie Cricket team have performed during the Boxing Day Test. Oh sure there were some pretty awesome presents over the years, I still have a Lego Space kit that I got as a wee tacker in ‘81, but its eclipsed by my memory of a balding Dennis Lillee charging in and taking 7 off 26 over; Haynes for 1, Croft for a duck and the great Viv Richards for 2.
But the flip side of that particular coin, was the ’81 Ashes played in England, were a young Sir Ian “Beefy” Botham was wielding the leather and willow and terrorising the Australian team
It’s fair to say that as an all-rounder Sir Ian Botham crushed a lot of Aussies over the years, now he’s turned to crushing Aussie grapes with his release of his Botham range of wines.
The wines have been crafted with award-winning Australian winemakers, including Nick Badrice, Chief Winemaker at Dorrien Estate in the Barossa, Marty Edwards, Head Vigneron at The Lane in Adelaide Hills. His old friend, Geoff Merrill of Geoff Merrill wines also joined in on the wine making, with the pair having a long wine-making history together.
Botham has known Merrill since touring Australia with England in 1978. The pair already have a long-standing partnership having previously formed Botham Merrill Willis wines with former England captain and fast bowler Bob Willis, where they have crafted some pretty interesting and often impressive wines.
The Botham Wines collection encompasses seven wines across three tiers, and all bear homage to Sir Ian’s legendary sporting career, from design to the names of the individual wines. The entry level, $11 RRP tier is called the “All Rounder”, a nod to his reputation as both a great batsman and bowler. The range then moves to the $24.99 ‘The Botham Series”, which have been given year number that represents a memorable years for Sir Ian: The Barossa ‘81 Series Shiraz is in memory to the year that he single-handedly took the Ashes from the Australian team (and was later even dubbed the ‘Botham Ashes’ and yes it still stings); the ’76 Series Chardonnay is named for the year that he played for the University of Melbourne Cricket Club; and the ’80 Series, the year that he became the first player in history to score a century and also take ten wickets in a single test.
At the pointy end of the range is the Sir Ian Botham range, premium wines carrying a RRP of $100, wines that are crafted from premium parcels of South Australian vineyards, Chardy grapes from Adelaide Hills and a Shiraz from a single Barossa Valley vineyard.
The Botham 76 Series Margaret River Chardonnay 2017 – a wine that has been sourced from two completely different vineyards, one inland which will give more of stone fruit characters and a coastal vineyard which generally gives more citrus and minerally characters. The wine it produces will be an interesting wine-nerd go to bottle in cooler climates, but in our warmer climate it shows as more of a middle of the road wine, an easy drinking wine, that doesn’t offend, but doesn’t carry a lot of interest to go back for a second bottle. Bright melon, lemon crisp apple and juicy apricot. A little thin and short on the tongue.
The Botham 81 Series Barossa Shiraz 2017 – typical Australian Shiraz, easy drinking with just a touch of dry tannin which makes itself shown at the back of the throat. Masses of black fruit and plummy flavours, gentle spice and a touch of chocolate from the time spent in oak barrels. There’s a touch of power and persistence there too which will make this a very interesting drop in our cooler months. Grab a few now and store them somewhere cool for next year.
The Botham 80 Series Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – my pick of the mid-range tier, the extra year gives it an extra bit of depth and weight in the mouth. Loaded with dark fruits; black cherry, mulberry and some dark plummy notes, a faint touch of eucalypt and mint and white pepper. The time on oak has added cedar and some aged leathery notes and a superb long and dry finish. It’s a great drinker now, but this will gain a complexity and evolve in the bottle beautifully over the next few years. If you’re the kind of person that likes points rather than tasting notes you’ll probably see this floating around 93pts.