I’m not easily persuaded by the marketing department, but when I saw the Route du Van label, I had to try the wines. There is even a fuel gauge on top of the screwcap showing a full tank. Handy.
Route du Van is the joint adventure of long time friends and Australian wine industry ‘veterans’ Ian bird and Tod Dexter, and their families.
Ian (particularly) and Tod have been keen followers of the Tour de France and anyone would have noticed le Tour is followed by a convoy of mobile camping contraptions, among them a fair sprinkling of VW camper vans.
It reminded me of our European vacation, for six months during the northern summer of 1976 (a wretched vintage spoiled by rain) in a VW camper van of dubious mechanical provenance. It used more oil than petrol and eventually let us down somewhere in the middle of Germany, where a local mechanic said he could do something for a large sum of money. He did something and on handing back the vehicle relieved us of an even larger sum. We chugged off and the van recovered its thirst for oil when we were well clear of Germany. We called this mechanically challenged conveyance ‘van ordinaire’.
But the point about this digression is that we enjoyed so many simple, open air meals, in the Loire Valley, in Alsace, in achingly beautiful forests in Germany and on islands in Greece. Not once did we drink wine kneeling with reverence. We had a picnic basket stuffed with charcuterie, local cheeses and breads, and village wines. Perfect.
There is a very big place in life for simple wines and Route du Van provides these at under $A20 a bottle. This is a challenging price bracket with most wines exhibiting artifice and confection (ie artificial colouring, flavouring and who knows what else). These wines are honest, flavoursome and entirely slippery. Buy a dozen or two, and get back to the simple life.
Route du Van Chardonnay Viognier 2010 is flinty dry with some slaty, mineral notes and then opens up with a sweet core of apricot fruit mid palate. Delicious. Just drink it!
Route du Van Dolcetto Shiraz 2010 is a racy wine with sweet fruit, bright and lively with long acid finish, and light but firm tannins. This will give your charcuterie a fine run for its money.
The Route du Van website is worth a visit just for the trip; it’s like a vacation without the airfare. Go there (www.routeduvan.com) and more importantly try the wines for your next picnic.
The wines are distributed in Australia by Prime Wines (www.primewines.com.au) and Nelson Wine Company (in Queensland) (www.nelsonwineco.com.au), in the USA (New York) by Little Peacock Imports LLC (www.little-peacock.com) and in the UK by Hallgarten Druitt & Novum Wines (www.hallgartendruitt.co.uk).