HATE TO LOVE IT

ENGLISH CRICK­ETER IAN BOTHAM WAS AN UNLIKABLE CHAR­AC­TER SO IT HURTS TO SAY HIS WINE RANGE IS NOT BAD

Life & Style Weekend - - FOOD & WINE - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULTZ Travis Schultz is the prin­ci­pal of Travis Schultz Law but he has been moon­light­ing as a restau­rant re­viewer and wine writer for the past 15 years.

They were long, hot and of­ten dry sum­mers, but some of my fond­est child­hood mem­o­ries are of 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-hand­edly 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 in 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 vino. 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 tip­toes rather than prances, but which rep­re­sents pretty good value at the $17.99 price point. 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. 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 is crafted with the same adapt­abil­ity and gen­eral ap­peal in mind.

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