Since retiring, England legend Andrew Sheridan has embraced wine with the same level of commitment as he gave to rugby. When we announced our partnership with the British and Irish Lions Sheridan, a former Lion, saw this is a combination of his 2 greatest passions and the 2 greatest things to come out of New Zealand, something that we totally agree on!
With the tour coming to New Zealand soon, Andrew has taken a look at how our wines stack up against the best of the Lions squad.
2015 Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir
This Pinot Noir is brimming with ripe red and black cherry fruit as you might expect from the bright 'sugar accumulating' sunlight of its home in the vineyards of Central Otago. However, although there is power and juicy fruit, there is a deftness of touch, with spice from well integrated oak, herbal notes and rounded acidity.
Indeed, to beat the World Champions in their own backyard, the Lions' are going to need to engage them in an arm wrestle but they too will need this deftness of touch, innovation and ability to provide a point of difference.
Talking of this wine's well integrated flavours and structure, the importance of integration and togetherness on a Lion's Tour cannot be underestimated. The ability for players from four different nations to come together, embrace a new structure, game plan and philosophy as quickly as possible, will be vital in helping to achieve a historic test series win.
Much in the way that this Pinot noir has many strings to its bow, with an array of well-balanced flavours, the Lions possess a whole host of players with not only power but skill and finesse. Whether it is the broken field running prowess of Stuart Hogg, the off-loading skills which complement the power of the likes of the Vunipolas and Toby Faletau, or the blockbusting ball carrying of CJ Stander; the Lions have the necessary arsenal. It's a question of bringing it to the fore and to what extent the All Blacks will allow them to do so.
This Mud House Pinot is great slightly chilled. It brings out the ripe fruit flavours further, whilst the refreshing acidity makes you want to go back for another sip, glass and bottle!
With temperature in mind, 'coolness' under pressure will be critical to determining whether the Lions overcome New Zealand this Summer. A player's ability to make the right calls in the multitude of cauldrons they will play in Down Under, will be absolutely fundamental to the outcome of what promises to be a titanic test series.
2016 Mud House Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
This Mud House Sauvignon Blanc highlights well defined stone and tropical fruit which practically come bursting out of the glass. There is an intriguing herbaceousness which adds complexity to the fruit and the wine is underpinned by a refreshing, mouth-watering acidity. The energy and vibrancy which this wine has will be important traits for the Lions to possess if they are to ruffle the feathers of the World Champions. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc typically requires very little ageing, its wonderful aromas ready to explode as soon as it is bottled! However, it needs the experience and expertise of the Mud House winemakers to make this wine truly knockout.
In much the same way, this is one of the strongest Lions squads ever assembled. It has the ingredients of youth sensations that have broken through like Maro Itoje, but with it comes wily experience from the likes of Alun Wyn Jones- players who has been there and done it on countless occasions at the highest level.
This is a beautifully crafted, crowd pleaser of a wine which will quench the thirst and wake up the senses of rugby lovers, for what promises to be a dramatic series this Summer!