Ian Botham Wines
They were long, hot and often dry summers, but some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending the Christmas school holidays going to the beach, swimming in my friends’ pools, and spending countless hours with eyes glued to a static-ridden tv screen listening to Richie Benaud calling the Ashes. I loved watching Dennis Lillee and Terry Alderman bowling at the height of their powers. As well as gloveman Rod Marsh who I reckon invented the sledge! But I hated the English openers Chris Tavare and Geoff Cook who scored runs at a rate that would make a snail look like Usain Bolt! And I especially despised Ian “Beefy” Botham. The unlikeable English all-rounder who almost single handily won the Ashes for the old foe at home in 1981. Though I still smile every time I recall his name emblazoned on the side of a piglet that was released on to the playing surface at the Gabba in 1983. And I certainly smiled when he finally announced his retirement in 1993. But alas, it seems that he’s back!
Sir Ian has recently launched “The Botham Wines” collection; a range of Australian made wines sourced from premier growing regions for each varietal. In his typically self-indulgent, if not egotistical style, his Regional Range is named after memorable moments is his cricketing career. Like the Botham 76 Series Margaret River Chardonnay – named in honour of the first year that Sir Ian scored 1000 runs in a season. Or the Botham Series 81 Barossa Shiraz – a moniker which describes that year he led England to an incredible Ashes series win. Or the Botham 80 Series Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon – a year in which the all-rounder became the first player to score a ton and also take 10 wickets in the same match.
And while it pains me to compliment wines named to honour a solipsistic cricketing villain, I have to admit that they’re not a bad drop.
I’m a disciple of Margaret River Chardonnay and the Botham 76 Series 2017 didn’t disappoint. Perhaps not made in the luscious style that the Margaret River normally produces, it’s greenish on the edges and the fruit is wound up, even when allowed to warm in the glass. There are unripe nectarine characters that weave their magic across the palate though seemingly tighten across the finish. It’s a zesty fruit journey and ample acids suck your cheeks in at the back end. I’d have expected a more voluptuous or creamy style, but it’s a pleasant drop.
Botham 81 Series Shiraz 2017
The Botham 81 Series Shiraz 2017 is a blend of Barossa fruit, but it doesn’t present in the jammy and ripe style that we have come to expect from the region. Flavours of cassis, Christmas cake and slightly sweaty blueberries escape the clutches of fine tannins through the mid-palate and softly grace their way across the finish. It’s a drink now style that tip toes, rather than prances; but which represents pretty good value at the $17.99 price point.
Botham 80 Series 2016
And if you like Coonawarra cabernet, the Botham 80 Series 2016 oozes all the savoury dark berry charm you’d expect of a cabernet from the region while the obligatory mint, eucalypt and white pepper nuances make a cameo through the middle. Some briar and cedar notes nicely balance the fine tannins that grip the top of your mouth as the wine makes its way to a lingering and earthy conclusion. It’s not the austere cellaring type, but at $17.99, it doesn’t pretend to be.
Sir Ian was undoubtedly one of the great cricketing all-rounders, and while they may not be destined for the top shelf of the cellar, it seems that his versatile range of wines are crafted with the same adaptability and general appeal in mind.