Life People Wine

Love your local

Written by Paul Bateman

A story close to home

Leigh owns and operates my local Spotswood wine bar. It was Leigh’s birthday on Friday, so I dropped by the bar to wish him well and purchase a bottle of red.

Leigh was talking to Sophie, a woman who works at the bar. Sophie recognised me as a local, called me to the counter and, with a sense of fine occasion, offered me a modest drop of golden liquid, which she poured from a tall, slender bottle into a fresh glass.

The wine? A 1973 Ferdinand Pieroth Guldentaler Schloßkapelle Auslese – a gift that day from Sophie to Leigh, which the two of them were sampling in a break between serving customers.

I brought the lip of the glass to the tip of my nose and inhaled the cleanest, sweetest, most fabulous scents of honey, lemon and ginger. The wine was pristine: aromas and taste.

The German family that makes this wine can trace their origins in the Rhine region back to the late 17th-century. Sophie purchased her bottle from a wine auction site.

Now, 50 years after it was bottled – and a world away from the steep, cool slopes of Germany’s Rhinehessen wine region – this ripe and wondrous white wine blend was revealing itself to an audience of three, on a Friday night, in the inner-west of Melbourne, Australia.

I was lost for words: the random chance; my great good fortune; the pure flavours on my tongue; the mathematics of it all.

Hours later, the taste of the wine still lingered on my palate.

I got lucky because I wandered into my local, as a local, and a pre-existing relationship ignited something special.

The part of Melbourne in which I live is blessed with countless independent wine bars and retailers – from Seddon Wine Store and Mrs Muttons to The Fifth Wine Bar and, among others, Barkley Johnson.

Lots of bars did it tough during COVID lockdowns, and are challenged now by the threat that cost of living pressures are placing on their customers.

I support these outlets because they make my patch of Melbourne so much more interesting, vibrant and fun.

I can’t promise you a 50-year-old Rhinehessen wine, but love your local and they’ll love you back.

About the author

Paul Bateman

I'm a writer from Melbourne, Australia. I love those moments where life and wine intersect in ways that matter. I write on other subjects at


  • Such a poetic piece Paul – sounds like you sipped the nectar of the wine Gods by chance! I hope you share this piece with Leigh & staff at your local Spotswood wine bar.

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