Over a year since db first unveiled the famous British cricketer’s plans to launch an English fizz, we can now confirm the producer and launch date for this important project.
In an exclusive interview with Sir Ian Botham and Paul Schaafsma – who represents the cricketer’s wines through Benchmark Drinks – it was revealed that the sporting legend’s first English wines will be unveiled this September.
After several visits to a range of English wineries, Botham has chosen his preferred partner for the project, which is Hush Heath Estate – a Kent-based specialist in pink sparkling wine that was founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Richard Balfour-Lynn.
Encouraging Botham to select Hush Heath Estate was not just the quality of the wines, but also the offer of a collaborative approach to the winemaking and promotion by the property’s owner, Balfour-Lynn.
Indeed, the new range of English wines will carry both partners names on the label, with the impending brand to be called Botham & Balfour.
Importantly for the recognition of English wine around the world, the two figures plan to work together to raise awareness of still and sparkling wines from the UK.
“Both of them are desperate to be ambassadors for the English wine industry,” said Schaafsma.
Notably, the Botham-backed launch will include an English still rosé, as well as a pink sparkling.
Sir Ian explained, “My relationship with Richard goes back a while, and I think his rosé Champagne – which I call it just to annoy everyone – is fantastic, and I don’t think I’ve ever been to a winery that is as immaculate as Hush Heath, and Richard is very progressive.”
Continuing, he recalled, “But then I tasted the still rosé, which is his latest release [from the 2018 vintage], and I thought wow, and a lot would think it was a Provençal rosé if they had it blind.”
As a result, Botham is initially to put his name to an English still and a sparkling rosé, and intimated that he may be tempted to add a still red to the line-up too, should Balfour-Lynn create a Pinot Noir that’s good enough.
For now, the rosé is planned to retail in the UK for around £15, with 10,000 bottles available from the 2018 vintage, while the exact nature of the pink fizz is yet to be confirmed, Schaafsma told dbthat he wants to keep the retail price to around £30.
We will bring more news on the tie-up following the launch event in mid-September.