Range Life: Remember Fun
Sunday, April 26, 2020 in News
Range Life: Remember Fun
We caught up with Cam Marshall—one half of the team behind Range Life along with Barnaby Flanders—to talk Italian varieties, pronunciation and putting his phone number on the bottle. Range Life is a sidestep to King Valley’s Italian varieties from their Garagiste flagship in the Mornington Peninsula. But more than that, they’ve made wines to drink, to share, to enjoy, to have fun, and look good while doing it. Explore Langton's Range Life Portfolio
The Range Life name comes from the name of a song from one of Marshall’s favourite bands from the American 90s indie rock scene, Pavement. And it’s a good name. The band’s easy-going, alternative, slightly irreverent sound really sums up what the Range Life is all about. They’re not trying to make great wine, they’re trying to make great drinks. In an industry often guilty of self-aggrandisement, that irreverence has struck a chord.
‘I became slightly obsessed with Soave. Like many in the wine industry, I like to drink new wines, try different things. But every year, I found myself buying a case of Pieropan Soave. It goes with everything. Sitting somewhere between Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. If you don’t know what to order with your food, just order a Soave, it’ll work. And it just got me thinking.’
This thinking led him to King Valley. Not an unusual choice as it’s the Australian home of Prosecco. From the first post-war Italian immigrants to these shores, subsequent generations have put down roots in the region. A combination of beautiful country, diverse terroir and the have-a-go spirit of the farmers is what Marshall thinks makes the King Valley so special.
‘It’s the attitude of people there. To just give something a go. There wasn’t much demand for Glera twenty years ago when they planted the vines. A lot of them used to be tobacco farmers, but now they’ve moved on. Not just to grapes either; they grow everything. They’re just good people and not caught up in the b.s. of wine.’
Behind Range Life is Cam Marshall and Barnaby Flanders. If you don’t already know them, you’ll know their wines from Garagiste and Le Stagiaire (the more accessible range) out of Mornington Peninsula. Colour-coded cool (a theme continued in Range Life), Garagiste was Barney Flanders’ breakout project in 2006 after years of working for ‘big wine.’ Small batch, expressive, terroir focused wines–excellent, but also quite serious. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Aligoté, the latter declaring some Burgundian ideals.
Marshall joined forces with Flanders in 2010. Today, they do it all themselves with Marshall being a bit more front-of-house. Having spent time earlier in his career working for San Pellegrino, he sees Range Life in a similar light of lifestyle–these wines belong on the table, not a plinth.
They produce Garganega, Prosecco, and Pinot Grigio out of King Valley, and a no-oak Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) out of Mornington Peninsula, amongst others. Marshall was keen to stress that they make the King Valley wines in the valley. That it isn’t just a reskin of Le Stagiaire with some Italian varieties. It’s much more than that.
Their range isn’t set in stone. In fact, Range Life was set up to be fun and to have fun. To take chances, or parcels of fruit, as they come. But it’s not as easy as all that.
One of the challenges of bringing Italian varieties to market is the difficulty in pronouncing some of the names. Garganega, chief among them. This is where Adam Draplin comes in. The renowned American graphic designer’s standout labels not only distinguish the wines, they set the tone of what you’re about to pour.
‘I saw the Adam Draplin prints in a shop and loved them. I sent him an email and asked if he wanted to do something with an Australian wine label. He replied and said, “f*ck yeah!” and that’s how that happened.’
The Pinot Grigio label depicts the sun high in the sky. Marshall says that it’s about the region and the sunny disposition of the wine and not, as assumed, a guide of what hour of the day to open the bottle. He didn’t reject that idea either.
The labels also don’t say what the varieties or the vintages are, but don’t worry, it’s all there on the back. In the case of the Garganega, so is Marshall’s mobile number and an invitation to send him a text if you want to know more about the variety. And he will reply as he always does. He did say he was obsessed.
‘I’ve had people send me shots of them drinking the wine after I reply. It’s nice. It’s real and it’s a bit of fun. Some of these wines might be hard to pronounce but who cares? Just drink them!’