As we prepare for the last week of the ICC Cricket World Cup and England’s first semi-final appearance since 1992, we get you in the mood with this trip down our very own cricketing memory lane when legendary English cricketer, turned Sky TV commentator, David Gower, shared his love for wine with The Buyer. With the launch of ‘My Perfect 6’ through Perfect Cellar in 2016 where he looked to put his name to wines that try to break new boundaries.
Geoffrey Dean, cricket reporter for The Times and regular contributor to The Buyer, caught up with David Gower to talk not just about his life in cricket but his love for wine and his then tie-up with Perfect Cellar in 2016.
Wine and cricketers have long been compatible bedfellows, and David Gower’s reputation as a connoisseur is long established.
When Gower, Ian Botham and Bob Willis were mainstays of the England side in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, wine was a regular topic of conversation in the dressing room. The latter two had a brand named after them – Geoff Merrill’s BMW (Botham-Merrill-Willis) red blend from the McLaren Vale – and now Gower has teamed up with Perfect Cellar in an ambassadorial role. [Botham has since gone on to launch his own range of wines with Paul Schaafsma’s Benchmark Drinks company]
The online retailer, that is expanding its 0n-trade operations, has just launched Gower’s ‘My Perfect 6’ – a half-case of good mid-market wines retailing for just under what the former England captain scored aplenty: a century (or £100).
Gower has been an avid wine collector since early in his playing days (having just sold off some 1983 first growths from his cellar), but he drinks all sorts of wines.
“One reason this Perfect Cellar concept fits,” he told The Buyer, “is that, rather than go upmarket which none of us can afford to do, we find wines we can enjoy and are happy drinking… something that puts a smile on our face and doesn’t cost £80 a bottle.”
Having performed a similar ambassadorial role for Laithwaites for a couple of years, Gower was approached by Moez Seraly, the French mastermind behind Perfect Cellar.
“Moez got in touch with me originally to do a dinner,” Gower revealed. “He sees a synergy between the wine trade and sport, and wanted an ambassador with sporting kudos. I don’t claim to be an expert on wine, but I’m a keen amateur. I have mates in the wine trade, and have lots of affordable claret, with Lynch-Bages a real favourite of mine. I also have plenty of Italian as well as New World wines from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and South America.”
It was early in his playing days that Gower’s interest in wine really began.
“My wine ‘career’ took off when my cricket started,” he continued. “Moving away from pints of Everards at The Cricketers pub at Grace Road [his first county, Leicestershire’s ground] onto something less bulky was a very good idea. I soon found other players to share the gaining of knowledge.”
Willis introduced him to Merrill, the extroverted, cricket-loving South Australian winemaker, and thanks to him “wine became a proper interest.”
Some of the free time I had on tours to Australia and New Zealand, which I was covering as a cricket correspondent for The Times, was invariably spent at wineries with Botham and Willis. On the last Ashes tour in 2013-14 I remember turning up at Penfolds in the Barossa Valley to see the winemaker only to discover Gower leading the entire Sky production team through a tasting of the full range of wines at the cellar door.
Gower is hoping that the partnership with Perfect Cellar is a long-term one.
“This is very much the start of things,” he said. “With a bit of luck, we can build it into something substantial. It’s an eclectic selection of wines, but I enjoy drinking them all.”
So what are Gower’s ‘Perfect 6’ tasting like?
Tendil & Lombardi Champagne NV. 12% abv. While mousse lacked persistence, and autolytic notes were limited, the base wine had some complexity and length.
Adela do Salvador Quinta da Calcada Terroir Edition 2013. 12% abv. Excellent Vinho Verde (blend of Alvarinho, Loureiro and Arinto) from Minho in northern Portugal. Seductive fruit (more stone than citrus with some tropical notes); notable intensity of flavour with some minerality and complexity; very good length.Teso La Monja Romanico 2013 (DO Toro, Spain). 14.5% abv. 100% Tempranillo. Appealing red fuit with some spicy notes; silky, neatly-integrated tannins; well-balanced despite highish alcohol. Made from 15-20 year old vines. Very drinkable.
4) Domaine Charly Nicolle, Chablis 2014
5) Chateau Matheron, Cotes de Provence Rose 2015
6) Domaine Les Terriens Ainsi Soit-Il, Cotes du Rhone 2013