BL16 - Page 60

Sir Ian Botham, England’s greatest cricket
all-rounder, tells Joe Fattorini why he’s
leaving the pitch to concentrate on his
other passion – wine producing. And of
course, the ’81 vintage is pretty special…
an Botham never had a business
card. “I’ve never needed one,” he
tells me, reaching into his pocket.
“But it felt great when I was sent
these”. He hands it over: “Sir Ian
Botham, Winemaker”.
He may be a cricket legend, the
world’s greatest living all-rounder,
charity fundraiser, and respected
commentator, but these days he wants
you to know that he makes wine.
The love affair started when Botham
became a professional cricketer. “I was
introduced to wine by John Arlott, when
I was about 16, at Somerset. John was
reporting on the game from this rickety
commentary box. Because I was the new
kid in the club, and I wasn’t playing, the
secretary asked me to take Mr Arlott’s
basket up to him. When I got there, John
asked me to open it and take everything
out. There were bottles of wine,
including a Beaujolais Nouveau.”
It was the beginning not only of
a love of wine (“A passion,” says Ian)
but something Botham shared with
Arlott. “That day John told me all about
how Beaujolais Nouveau was very short
lived. And about the Beaujolais run into
London. That was my first introduction
to wine. A few days later we were on the
same train up to London and we got
talking again.” And they never stopped.
Arlott introduced Botham to French
wine, and Botham returned the favour
by introducing Arlott to Australian
wine. Not always to Arlott’s delight. “He
was very set in his ways,” Botham says.
Botham certainly had plenty of
chances to learn about Australian wine
as a cricketer. “I was talking to Bob
Willis recently and we agreed we played
Test cricket in the right era. In our day,
we’d play Thursday, Friday and
Saturday and then go out to have a
decent drink on a Saturday night. A few
of us would recover on Sunday and visit
wineries and then come back to play the
final two days on Monday and Tuesday.”
Australia was where Botham’s love
of wine took flight and it’s where he
spends six months of the year today.
It was natural that it would be where
Sir Ian Botham Wines was born. He’s
quick to distance himself from the idea
of a “celebrity wine… where someone
just puts their name on the side of
something they’ve bottled from a tank
that nobody else wanted”. To make his
range, he’s collaborated with some of

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