Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Rugby stars Ruan Pienaar and Robbie Diack plan to score with new fine wine range

By Amanda Ferguson

Ulster Rugby stars Ruan Pienaar and Robbie Diack have launched their new Ballybosch range of wine and want you to give it a try.

The South African pair have teamed up with family-owned Direct Wine Shipments, which is celebrating 60 years in business in Belfast.

At the launch of Ballybosch, Robbie and Ruan told the Belfast Telegraph they had the idea for their own wine over a glass of red while delayed in Italy after an international match.

The name is a nod to the rugby stars' birthplace and their current home.

'Bally' is a prefix for many towns in Northern Ireland and 'Bosch' is from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa.

Ballybosch is a partnership with Brenaissance Winery, which belongs to Robbie's wife's sister and brother-in-law Tom and Haley Breytenbach. They have come up with a zesty sauvignon blanc and a full-flavoured red blend using malbec, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon grapes.

Ruan is excited about the new venture, something the men hope to develop when they retire from sport.

"For Direct Wine Shipments to approve of the wine is great," he said.

"People in Belfast enjoy good food, good wine and they enjoy their rugby, so I think the three of them go together really well."

Robbie said: "We put together a couple of ideas and the next thing you know we had a name, then all of the sudden the bottles arrived and they are in stores.

"It's great for us to have another interest off the field."

Direct Wine Shipments, named Best UK Independent Retailer of the Year, is run by brothers Peter and Neal McAlindon.

"We are delighted to be associated with these two fantastic superstars," Neal said.

"Not just the fact that they are great sportsmen, they are really decent gentleman.

"We will only bring in new wines if we believe they add value and a point of difference to our current listings. These wines unequivocally impressed our tasting team."

Ballybosch is available from independent wine stores and a range of hotels and restaurants.

Wine dinners with Robbie and Ruan run at James St South on Tuesday and Shu on March 24.

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