Just as the sound of leather on willow was fading for the season – Whack! We lose two cricket legends – Rodney William Marsh and Shane Keith Warne – a big blow for Australia’s cricket-loving public. Like a lot of people, I watched the tear-inducing tributes to these champions, and I also looked to celebrate them with an appropriate drop or two. Like a flipper by Warnie, or a classic catch from ‘Iron Gloves’ – there’s quite a few classy cricket acts in the wine world.
There are wines labels that are owned by cricket royalty. Ricky Ponting – one of Australia’s best ever batsmen and captains, has teamed up with winemaking guru – Ben Riggs – to create a serious stable of quality wines. The Ponting ‘366’ Shiraz Cabernet is a flagship, Ricky was the 366th test player for Australia. The Ponting Milestone ‘127’ Barossa Shiraz is the drop I pulled from the cellar on the weekend. The ‘127’ represents Punter’s maiden test ton, in his first Ashes match. The ‘Close of Play’ Cabernet and the ‘Mowbray Boy’ Pinot Noir also look to be as cracking as a Ponting cover-drive for four.
Lord Ian Botham – a long time legend from the old enemy – was an exceptional all-rounder. On his many Ashes tours ‘Down Under’ he would regularly venture out into the wine wilderness, and he developed a passion for fine Aussie wine. He now has his own label, and his portfolio includes the Ian Botham Wines ‘81’ Barossa Shiraz – representing the year ‘Beefy’ led England to an Ashes victory, the ‘76’ Chardonnay – the year he first scored 1000 runs in a single season and the ‘80’ Coonawarra Cabernet – the year the Lord became the first-ever player to score a ton and take 10 wickets in the same match.
Brokenwood Wines have their long-standing ‘Cricket Pitch’ range. Jim Barry Wines have their ‘Cover Drive’ Cabernet, named in honour of the old Penola Cricket Ground which Jim Barry purchased and established a vineyard while retaining the historical pavilion and pitch. Like the well-honed craft of an Aussie seam bowler, St. Johns Road Wines in the Barossa aim for a consistent spell with their ‘Line and Length’ Cabernet.
But the cricketing cake must surely go to Heydon Estate Wines. These guys clearly have a love for cricket, producing wines such as ‘Chin Music’, ‘Hallowed Turf’, ‘The Willow’, ‘The Declaration’, ‘The Urn’ and ‘The Sledge’. Warnie and Bacchus were well known for their on-field sledges, often as fierce as a ripping Warne leg-spinner.
So, heaps on offer to celebrate the lives of our recently lost legends. Caught Marsh – Bowled Warne – I’ll drink to that!