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Canberra
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Rugby greats: from the backline to the vine

Three of Australia’s celebrated Wallabies players have been busy on a side project – their very own wine brand, Backline Wines.

Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell have partnered with winemaker Ben Riggs, of McLaren Vale’s Mr Riggs Wine Co., on the project that launched earlier this year, and have recently announced the latest drop in their Backline lineup: the limited-edition 295 McLaren Vale shiraz.

295 signifies the number of test matches played by Giteau, Ashley-Cooper and Mitchell for the Wallabies and only 1,063 bottles have been released, representative of the combined number of points the trio scored in those games.

Giteau, a proud Canberran, said they discovered their love of wine while living and playing rugby in France.

“Once you get over to France, especially in the summertime, you really come to appreciate your rosés,” he said.

Heavily involved in the winemaking process, the trio have been learning and sampling the whole way through the production of each of their wines.

“It’s been a really good learning curve and we’re heavily involved,” Giteau said.

“It’s also an education course for us too – we’re trying to learn and it’s important to branch outside of rugby.”

The latest release of the 295 shiraz joins Backline’s existing collection: the 2020 ‘Pilou Pilou’ Fleurieu Peninsula rosé; the 2018 ‘Block Raiders’ Langhorne Creek shiraz; and the 2018 ‘Je Fais’ Langhorne Creek cabernet blend.

“All our bottles, we think quite deeply about the name and something that represents some time we’ve had or shared together.”

Giteau raised a glass of his very own wine this past weekend as he celebrated the Brumbies’ home-town victory over the Queensland Reds in the Super Rugby AU grand final on Saturday 19 September – their first title since 2004.

“I was over the moon … they finally got some reward for the last few years,” he said.

“It was a great outcome, a super night, the only downfall for me is the players didn’t get to experience a sold-out stadium [due to COVID-19 restrictions].”

For now, Giteau is looking to reconnect with the Canberra community after lots of time away. He’s enjoying family time with his wife and three children, including his newborn daughter, and playing some local rugby with the Gungahlin Eagles.

“You know that no one out there is getting paid, they’re out there because they love it and they care about the club,” he said.

“I always wanted to come back and play in the local comp, so it’s been good. I’ve had some challenges with the sledging but that’s all good fun as well!”

For more information on Backline Wines or to check out the collection, visit backlinewines.com.au