It seems this celebrity wine thing isn’t going away.
Following closely on the release of Ricky Ponting’s new wines, comes another celeb drinks project backed by the same group.
This time, however, it’s not one former cricket legend involved but three. And it’s not cricket, but rugby, with a trio of celebrated ex-Wallabies involved – Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell.
With Ben Riggs again in the winery, and the same clever marketing folk behind the sales and branding, Backline Wines promises as much as Ponting’s.
The only question is whether the trio have as much personal involvement as Ponting (and family). I sure don’t feel it. There isn’t a notable personality to these wines beyond Ben’s own M Riggs releases.
Still, these are solid products for a celebrity wine collab, with the rugby-themed packaging is on point, plus the wines are hearty and well-priced. It is all well targeted at a likely market of middle/upper class rugby fans who like to drain the odd bottle of red.
My only other stumbling block? How unique is the new ‘limited release’ flagship red?
Backline Wines 295 Shiraz 2018
This is the top dog for the range, with 1,063 bottles produced, the same number of points the three made in their 295 games. Complete with waxed lid, and Tempus Two-esque golden pewter label, the packaging is bang on for the intended audience and price. Importantly, it looks expensive, which guarantees that someone will get a bottle in a black bag with a black string handle sometime soon. It’s a rich, decadent plush McLaren Vale red too. The flow of purple fruit and supportive oak is what makes this wine – it feels like flashy, blokey, big company McLaren Vale Shiraz and will win this friends where ever it goes. Riggs knows how to nail this luscious Vale style and everything aligns here. I find the acidity a bit too dominant, with that trademark tartaric lip tingle to finish, but I can’t fault the execution of this regardless, the flavour and style convincing in its big, smooth, ripe mode. It’s not quite a try under the goal posts, but definitely crossed the line (with a conversion).
There is just one niggle – read the tasting notes for this Backline Shiraz first (here). Ok, now read the tasting notes for the (also $50 RRP) Mr Riggs JFR Shiraz (here). So, hey, were there really 1,063 bottles produced, or just labelled under Backline Wines? And did the boys have any input in it? This isn’t a gotcha moment, as the wine is clever. But how limited is it really?
Best drinking: over the next fifteen years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $50. Would I buy it? Not my preferred style, so not personally. But lovers of big reds likely will lap it up.
Backline Wines Block Raiders Shiraz 2018
Langhorne Creek Shiraz. Fun to place this up against the 295. It’s less molten rich, definitely more restrained and less obvious wine, with dark berries tending more red than luscious purple fruit and more natural acidity. Indeed there’s mint and meaty bits too, giving a more mid weight mode. It’s good solid hearty Shiraz, if a bit raw at the edges. Mr dependable. Best drinking: over the next decade. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $23.16 direct from the website. Would I buy it? Not quite my thing either. But will find friends, especially at this price.
Backline Wines Je Fais Cabernet Blend 2018
Also Langhorne Creek. Minty. Tart and rather ungenerous red. It gets more pleasant as it carries along but the warm tarry and astringent tannins to finish paint a less flattering picture. Long and hearty enough but much lesser for this range – it’s just a bit gruff and clumsy. Best drinking: over the next decade. 16.8/20? 89/100. 14%, $23.16 direct. Would I buy it? No.