SIR IAN BOTHAM Launch­ing my own wine range feels bet­ter than scor­ing a hun­dred at Lord’s

Daily Express - - RICHARD & JUDY -

pre­cisely in the morn­ing and I would pick it up and say: ‘Morn­ing John, what time would you like me up there?’

“The an­swer, with­out fail: ‘As soon as pos­si­ble. And bring your thirst with you’.”

By then, as well as his work as a cricket com­men­ta­tor, Ar­lott had gained a rep­u­ta­tion as a wine con­nois­seur with a weekly news­pa­per col­umn de­voted to the grape. And if their re­la­tion­ship had be­gun with a teenage Botham car­ry­ing his friend’s bot­tles up the stairs at Som­er­set, a decade down the line the crick­eter found him­self es­sen­tially do­ing the same thing again.

When Botham ar­rived at his friend’s house each morn­ing he would be greeted by Ar­lott and boxes of wine. Wines that had been sent to him by pro­duc­ers from all over France that Ar­lott would then write a re­port on and send back to them. “My first task would be to take the wines that had ar­rived, which could be any­thing from six bot­tles to 36 – it re­ally could be – and take them down to the cel­lar,” he says.

“Then when I came back up he would have this lit­tle wicker bas­ket that could hold six bot­tles and he would have al­ready writ­ten down from what he had seen what he wanted bring­ing back up from the cel­lar. Then we would taste ac­cord­ingly what he wanted to taste. I don’t re­mem­ber a spit­toon then. He was very knowl­edge­able.

“I would then have lunch with him, which more of­ten than not my wife would join us at and then in the af­ter­noon I would pop back and see the fam­ily. Then at four o’clock I would pick him up and take him for a lit­tle drive around the is­land.”

If those mem­o­ries are now tinged with sad­ness – Ar­lott died in 1991 aged 77 – they also in­stilled in Botham not only a love of the grape but the kind of knowl­edge of viti­cul­ture that he is now putting into ef­fect with his own range of wines.

And he says that when­ever he re­turns to the Chan­nel Is­lands he has a very par­tic­u­lar way of toast­ing the mem­ory of his friend. “When­ever we used to go back to Alder­ney we used to go to the Rose & Crown up the hill and ALL ROUNDER: Sir Ian Botham along­side wine writer Richard Sid­dle; at Buck­ing­ham Palace with wife Kathy and grand­sons Re­gan and James af­ter be­ing knighted in 2007; and let­ting loose for Eng­land at Lord’s in 1985 Basil the South African land­lord would al­ways have a very good se­lec­tion of wines in there,” he says.

“I would have to get one with a cork. Then I would take the bot­tle, of­ten with my father-in­law, and go down to John’s grave where we would sit and drink it rem­i­nisc­ing about him. We would take the empty bot­tle home but al­ways leave the cork. So there’s quite a few corks there now. Even to this day we do that.”

Richard Sid­dle is ed­i­tor of drinks busi­ness web­site

For more info on Sir Ian Botham’s range go to both­

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