IT IS fair to say that I have little in common with Sir Ian Botham, particularly as far as cricketing ability is concerned. A month or so ago, however, I was summoned to the Ageas Bowl, in Southampton, to a cricketing dinner where Ian Botham wines made one of their first appearances.
On offer were two from the basic Botham All-Rounder Range: a Chardonnay 2017, and a Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. These wines were classic examples of what the labels claimed them to be. At the same level, there is apparently also a Shiraz 2018. These wines will retail at about £8.
At a higher level is the Botham Series, with a Chardonnay 2016 from the Margaret River, in Western Australia, a Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 from the prime region of Coonawarra, and a Shiraz 2012 from the Barossa Valley, all at about £12.
From these, there is a distinct leap in quality, and price, to the Sir Ian Botham wines, with a target price of £42.50. Here, we have another Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Barossa Valley Shiraz 2013, while the Chardonnay 2017 comes from the cooler region of the Adelaide Hills. Currently, these wines are not in general distribution, but can be ordered online at www.bothamwines.com.
There is nothing new in celebrities’ attaching their names to wines — for example, there is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the market under the name of Graham Norton — but Sir Ian has approached it in a different way: he is working in conjunction with Paul Schaafsma, one of the great names in the global wine industry, and his plans are to extend the range to include Pinot Noirs from Central Otago, in New Zealand, and the Mornington Peninsula, in Australia, and an English sparkling wine.
For those of you who are not cricket fans, dislike Australian wine, and do not want to pay as much as £8 for a bottle of wine, there are plenty of bargains about. At Sainsbury’s this week, my eye was caught by the Takeout Sangiovese from the Rubicone region in Italy for £4.95, a Nederburg 1791 Merlot from South Africa at £4.85, and, from the same country, the white blend of Chenin Blanc and Colombard Wild Valley 2017 for just £3.50.
For me, the best range of interesting wines at low prices remains at Lidl. It offers an outstanding range of red wines from Italy, with a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016 at just £3.99, a Bardolino Classico 2017 at £4.49, and a Nero d’Avola 2016 from Sicily, at £4.99. Other red bargains are a French Pinot Noir 2017 at £6.79, and the Spanish Barón del Cega Veldepeñas Gran Reserva 2012 (£4.99). An interesting white wine is the Chilean Pedro Ximenez (£4.09).
Finally, back to Australia with the Seaview sparkling wine: a classic blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for just £6.99. One can still drink cheaply and well.