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Ulster rugby stars launch new wine range

South African duo Ruan Pienaar and Robbie Diack, two talismans of Ulster Rugby, have launched a new dual-identity wine brand for the Northern Irish market.

Rugby stars Ruan Pienaar, centre-left, and Robbie Diack, centre-right, in the Direct Wine Shipments shop (Photo: Twitter)

The pair, who have each made huge impacts since signing for the Irish province a few years ago, are now looking to make a similar impact on the wine market in their adoptive home.

Called Ballybosch – from the Irish word “bally”, meaning “town”, and the South African wine region of Stellenbosch – a Sauvignon Blanc and red blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz have been launched.

They will be be sold by local NI retailers supplied by merchants Direct Wine Shipments, winners last year of the IWSC Independent Retailer award.

DWS owners Peter and Neal McAlindon said they were “initially sceptical” of the idea, but were won over by the enthusiasm of the rugby stars and the quality of their offerings.

“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,” said Neal.

The range features a red blend and a Sauvignon Blanc (Photo: DWS)

The pair say they came up with the idea to launch a wine brand on a delayed trip home from a match in Italy, where, over a glass of wine, thoughts turned to careers after they hang up the rugby boots.

Diack told The Belfast Telegraph, “We put together a couple of ideas and the next thing you know we had a name, then all of a sudden, the bottles arrived and they are in stores.

“It’s great for us to have another interest off the field.”

Diack’s sister and brother-in-law Tom and Haley Breytenbach own the Brenaissance winery in Stellenbosch, from which the wines are sourced.

And Pienaar is convinced the wines – which retail for £8.99 for the white and £9.99 for the red – will suit the local palates.

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

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