‘Beefy’ Botham now has a wine label to his name

July 23rd, 2010 - 12:35 pm ICT by ANI  

London, July 23 (ANI): Former England cricketer Sir Ian Botham now has a wine named after him.

Beefy was in Brighton recently to promote his Botham Merrill Willis (BMW) wines and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, for which he has raised at least 13 million pounds over the past 25 years, thanks to his much-celebrated, length-of-the-country walks, reports The Telegraph.

Recalling his playing days, he said that never even did a warm-up, and yet, scored 14 centuries and claimed 383 wickets in 102 Test matches.

“I’ve moved on. When I last looked in the dictionary, ‘retire’ meant ’stop’ and that’s just what I’ve done. I still love cricket, of course, but I now get the buzz I need from commentating on, rather than playing in, matches. Oh, and from drinking wine of course,” The Telegraph quoted him, as saying.

Botham says the late commentator John Arlott introduced him to the nuances of wine drinking at the age of 16 in Somerset.

He said that Arlott asked him to help carry two bags up to the commentary box.

“They were both made of wicker and weighed a ton. It turned out that one was full of bread, cheese and cold meats and the other was full of wine bottles. He was terribly affable and asked me whether I’d ever tasted wine. I told him that, no, I hadn’t, that all I knew was beer and cider,” Botham recalled.

Arlott promptly opened a bottle - a Beaujolais apparently - and invited the young Botham to taste it. The boy was immediately smitten and the pair chatted about wine for the next two hours.

“He became my mentor and I adored him. Years later, I bought a house near him on Alderney in the Channel Islands and we became great friends. Every day followed the same pattern. He’d call me at exactly 9.06 a.m. and ask me when I was coming over,” Botham said.

“‘Ten o’clock,’ I’d say. ‘Well bring your thirst,’ he’d reply in that lovely Hampshire burr. I’d help him put his daily deliveries away in the cellar and we’d sit down and drink several bottles, and then have lunch. He was so knowledgeable and I learnt so much from him.”

After Arlott died, Sir Ian would go regularly to his grave, drink a bottle of something fine in tribute and leave the cork. “I built up quite a pile,” he says.

Botham says he has a particular liking for wines from New Zealand and Australia — Central Otago pinot noir and Clare Valley Riesling in particular.

It was during one such tour that Botham met the famous South Australian winemaker Geoff Merrill.

Merrill overheard Botham and former fast bowler Bob Willis likening the local beer to “weasel’s pee”.

“Well, if you don’t like our beer then try our wine,” Merrill countered, inviting both Willis and Botham to come and taste.

The trio got on famously and years later came up with a selection of wine that they were all happy to put their names to, namely a chardonnay, a cabernet and a shiraz.

Botham clearly enjoys life and encourages others to enjoy it too. He loves his wine and is far more knowledgeable than he likes to let on. (ANI)

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