My introduction to wine came at the tender age of 17. I was playing for Somerset CCC and was given the important task of carrying the late John Arlott’s wicker basket to the radio commentary box. Inside this basket was his new selection of Beaujolais, French cheese and baguettes. He asked me if I drank wine and I said, “No sir, I’m from Somerset and drink cider”.
A few days later we happened to be on the same train to London and this was where I had my first sip of wine. That sip cemented not only a lasting friendship with John, but also a continuing passion for wine. John was a lover of French wine, as the years went by and my wine knowledge grew, I started to introduce him to new world wines; it took the Penfold Grange for him to begrudgingly admit that it was “not bad” !! When John passed away, my father in law and I would take a fine bottle to his grave side and share it while looking back at memories before leaving the cork – there are many corks in that Alderney grave yard.
During my career as a cricketer and then commentator, I was lucky enough to travel to some of the best wine making countries in the world, visit their winery’s and listen to some of the best wine producers talk about their wine. I’ve tasted more wines than I could possibly remember and I’ve seen some fabulous cellars. This, alongside my friendships with John Arlott, Bob Willis, Geoff Merrill and many others, has been the founding & teaching of my wine knowledge.
My first wine was produced alongside my great friends Bob Willis and Geoff Merrill. It took 17 years of us talking about producing our own wine before our first vintage came out in 2001. Geoff is a phenomenal winemaker and all the credit to the “BMW” range has to go to him. I did not have the knowledge to know where to start with blending wine at that stage, Bob and I played the important part of sampling the wines as they went along the blending process – not a bad job to have!
Developing my own range of wines has been something I’ve wanted to do for years and I’m thrilled the time has now come. In making these wines, I’ve travelled across Australia and New Zealand and visited many of the winemaking hotspots that each country has to offer, tasting and blending as I go. Naturally I checked up on Geoff when I was in South Australia and we blended up a magnificent Coonawarra Cabernet together. I’ve included this wine in my first vintage release.
People ask me what I’m looking for in a good wine and the answer is simple. It must taste exceptional and offer good value for its price tag. I believe each of my wines delivers that and I hope you agree!