Romantic wine-tasting date twinned with lifelong loves

Paul Sheerin, the owner of Defiance Spirits, has the fondest of memories of an Australian chardonnay

It’s 1992. John Major is PM and Ugly Kid Joe was in the charts from the summer’s movie hit, Wayne’s World.

I’d been on a blind date with a Canadian girl and 13 days later I’ve quit my job and my house was on the market. Fast forward three months and we’re back packing through Sumatra and Java and ended up in Australia.

Our first port of call was Western Australia, Margaret River to be precise. We hitchhiked from Perth with our lives intact and booked a wine tasting at the emerging Leeuwin Estate Vineyard. 

The mode of transport was two dodgy rental push bikes. We are 24 years old and hardly wine connoisseurs. As we tasted our way through their portfolio, we finally ended up with lunch on their beautiful veranda overlooking a glorious vineyard. The wine we drank was Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay (today’s prices £79.00 per bottle, I think we paid $25 AUD for the whole experience). 

It was a new modern form of Chardonnay – crisp, clean and full of peach and pear notes with a lovely minerality and without the oak that had created the term, ABC – anything but chardonnay.  It’s a wine we both remember to this date. But a great wine isn’t just the flavour it’s who you share it with and the location could not have been any better. The lady was to be my future wife in just five months.

We finished the wine, got on our push bikes and gingerly made it back to our youth hostel, avoiding the large tourist coaches that seemed to be swerving into us, or was it the other way round.

It was many years later when we had twins and settled back in Manchester when I came across a bottle in The Cheshire Smokehouse. We enjoyed it that night on the first sip, like a re-run of a movie playing before our eyes, playing Boyz II Men, End Of The Road, and savouring every drop and memory.

This was the beginning of my love affair with wine, taking my WSET3 in Manchester and eventually using my wine making knowledge in running an award winning spirits distillery in North Manchester – Defiance Spirits.

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