The Buyer
Brad Royale on why drinking “Bus Wines” on tour are the best

Brad Royale on why drinking “Bus Wines” on tour are the best

Now we might have been fortunate enough to taste the finest wines in all their glory at a select wine masterclass or tasting, all fitted out with tasting sheets, spittoons and sommeliers on hand to pour the next offering. But there is an alternative way of drinking wine that is just as memorable. That’s drinking wine out of a bottle going between winery visits on a study tour in a far away land. Here Canadian wine buyer, Brad Royale, introduces the concept of “Bus Wines” which is essentially drinking on the move….

Richard Siddle
4th February 2018by Richard Siddle
posted in Opinion,

You know how it is. You’ve had a long-ish lunch, you’re on to your fourth wine visit of the day, and there are wines being picked up for so-called “later analysis” that are crying out to be sampled en-route. Brad Royale introduces us to the concept of “Bus Wine”.

Going on an overseas wine trip might sound glamorous, but soon those long hours, countless dinners, late nights, early starts start to catch up with you. Particularly if you are on a long haul trip Down Under where seven to 10 days travelling around with the same people could be quite easily filmed and passed off as a reality TV show. What starts off as all smiles and hand shakes, can soon descend in to cliques and factions, as the combination of countless tastings, fermentation tanks and 10 flights of wine a day start to wear thin.

So spare a thought for the 12 brave souls who are currently criss-crossing their way across Australia as part of Tim Wildman MW’s latest James Busby wine tour taking some of the world’s most influential wine buyers to leading producers, all jet powered by Wine Australia. Wildman, himself, shared what was in store for the select A-list (his words, not ours) of buyers chosen to make the trip on The Buyer last week. Including Britain’s very own Ronan Sayburn MS of 67 Pall Mall and Christopher Sherwood of the now Bottle Apostle Group.

In between spittoons some of the group have promised to share their thoughts along the way. First up is the wonderfully named Brad Royale, wine director at the Rocky Mountains in Calgary, Canada, who has sent this short, but perfectly formed account of life on the road, direct from the tour bus. Take it away Brad…

Brad Royale: why “Bus Wines” are best…

“The drive from Bruce Tyrrell’s driveway to the town of Yass is six hours. Six hours on a bus pointed south, with a quick wave to Wollongong as we pass by. We confiscate the remnants of our morning’s tasting, neatly stuffing the eski with a days worth of gear. Bus wine is crucial. You need the sips to keep you energised and the confines of the bus gives the freedom to discuss the wines away from the leaning ears of wine makers. On a cross continent wine tour bus time is somewhat akin to an airport layover, but with better wine and fuller bladders.

“Vat 1 is amongst the world’s greatest bus wines. Salty, chewy, decidedly firm and works with the endless flavours of snacks being handed around. When presented with the dilemma of what to pound while crushing Hamburger O-Rings, Last Call Kebab Doritos, Tim Tams (obviously) and an absurd amount of chicken flavoured crisps Vat 1 is a sure fire score. We drained the 2005, 2009 and 2013 in short time. The 2005 is already a legend, offering a killer drop of Semillon at present, but will no doubt live for another 20 years. I wish it a was bottled in magnums.

The perfect wine and snacks matches for a six hour trip between Australian wineries

“Chicken flavoured Twisties are a bit of a race for time. The race is to eat as many as you can before your blood pressure ruptures your spinal column, firing your sacrum through the bus seat. No one wants this, but you do want to eat the Twisties, so you must plan. To stave off a complete nightmare of a medical emergency one must hunt through the eski for something to refresh the palate, and hopefully slow the uptake of synthetic chicken powder (a note must be made that in the ingredients listed, poultry is firmly absent). For this the 2017 Scion rose was purposeful, providing ample lube for the demise of an army of Twisties. Rosé from Rutherglen is something we should see more of, the more the better in fact, for medical purposes.

Clonakilla to Beechworth is just over four hours and the bus is teaming with bottles. Over the afternoon we barrel down the Hume highway lapping back the 2009 Clonakilla Shiraz Viogner, Wagga Wagga off in the distance. I tend to think the Shiraz Viognier as being fine-lined and often a touch stoic when it’s shy of a decade old, but the 2009 is a roaring monster and delivers a sultry and heady gulp of lavishly textured red wine. It made an easy friend with the bag of chicken teriyaki potato chips that end up on the seat beside me. Bus wine is the best.

“Bus wine is best.”

To be continued…

  • You can follow the Beyond Busby trip on The Buyer over the coming weeks with contributions from some of the buyers as well as updates from Tim Wildman. You can also follow it on social media using the hashtag #BeyondBusby18 or in the feeds of @jamesbusbytrav @WineAustralia (Instagram) or @Wine_Australia (Twitter). The full Beyond Busby itinerary can seen on the website