CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sussex Life today CLICK HERE

Visiting Butlers Wine Cellar in Brighton

PUBLISHED: 15:08 18 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:08 18 April 2016

Henry Butler (Photo by Julia Claxton)

Henry Butler (Photo by Julia Claxton)

Archant

Jilly Goolden finds out how the Butlers did it, visiting the family wine shop in Brighton

When Butlers Wine Cellar opened in Brighton in 1979, my tastebuds were just waking up to the multi-faceted world of wine. Well, I say “multif-aceted”, but way back then the wine world was an impoverished, pitifully narrow peninsula and Butlers reflected that, concentrating just on Bordeaux, Germany and the occasional bottle of Tokai. I know, because I was there.

Nonetheless, Butlers was pioneering. Geoffrey Butler, founder of the Sussex Wine Appreciation Society no less, needed a space from which he could sell wines and found a little corner shop in Queen’s Park Road which was cheap to rent and had a large basement to store stock.

And the shop is still there. The neighbouring shops have all gone, so in obscure isolation this trailblazing wine business (small, but with a big reputation), stands as a beacon of brilliance in a gastronomic desert. “We are a destination shop,” explains Henry Butler who is now in charge. “Free parking, complimentary dog biscuits...”. People visit from far and wide and shop from all over the country – an order for the Isle of Mull was being packaged when I was there.

The range now extends to 2,500 wines. If you visit, wear a coat, because the shop is kept at cellar temperature. There’s no heating and there never has been. Friday’s a good day to choose, by the way, as there’s always something interesting open for customers to taste. There are racks all around the walls of the shop, but on the floor in the middle are boxes and boxes of wines all at under £10 (the most affordable is only £5.99). Butlers is part of a group of independent wine businesses who use their collective clout to drive bargains with wine suppliers. And in the racks are gems such as Peter Michael’s pinot noir from Sonoma Coast at £95, and wines with helter skelter price tags such as Chateaux Mouton Rothschild. It is an unusual, eclectic and exciting mix.

Henry is innovative and trend-setting. As many wine enthusiasts weary of wines with liver-shrivelling levels of alcohol, he’s discovering more lissom delights such as an unusual vinho verde, Raza 2014 (£8.99) at 11.5%, with its slight petillance, blossomy in character and faintly evocative of sugared almonds (though dry). Henry and I share a great enthusiasm for Portugal, home to many of Europe’s hidden treasures. And Austria too – another of our mutual passions. His Johanneshof Reinish Rotgipfler 2014 at 12.5% alcohol (£15.49) was a big surprise: it has the weight and mouthfeel of chardonnay, but is totally original with a petally floral quality and a delightful zip of fresh acidity. Totally delicious.

There’s now another branch of Butlers in Brighton too at St George’s Road, Kemptown and Butlers has a half share in the wine bar/shop Fourth and Church in Hove.

www.jillygoolden.com

READ ON

South Downs Cellars in Hurstpierpoint and Lindfield - Jilly Goolden explores a treasure trove of a wine shop with outlets in Hurstpierpoint and Lindfield

20 of the best pubs in Sussex to visit this winter - What could be nicer than a sleepy Sunday afternoon in one of our beautiful Sussex pubs? Here are some of our favourites...

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sussex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sussex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sussex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 11:47

With late-night shopping, fairs, Christmas markets and plenty of food and drink, we’ve rounded up some of the best festive offerings in Sussex

Read more
Yesterday, 11:46

Enjoy the tranquility of Verdley Wood on this circular pub walk

Read more
Yesterday, 11:24

Ideally situated for commuting to London and Brighton, this West Sussex town offers the perfect blend of rural and urban living

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

10 of the most beautiful, inspiring and simply stunning photos of Sussex shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Sussex this month

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Clive Agran’s monthly investigation of Sussex’s hidden past turns homeward as he visits Bodiam, Northiam and Ewhurst Green

Read more
Monday, October 29, 2018

Sheffield Park and Garden near Haywards Heath is a paradise for photographers. Especially during the autumn months…

Read more
Monday, October 29, 2018

The skies of Sussex are sure to be lit up this November with some amazing fireworks and bonfire events taking place across the county

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

With the South Downs, quaint villages and coastal trails, Sussex is a great place for a walk. Here we round up some of the best

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

From pumpkins to spooky activities, we take a quick look at some events on offer across Sussex this Halloween

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Disappear into the ancient oak woodland at Arlington on this short circular stroll

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

A rich local history, thriving annual festivals and a bounty of amenities make this East Sussex town hard to top

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Cuckfield’s Ockenden Manor offers a spectacular panorama while you eat

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

We explore Pulborough, a village with a long history and an unusual annual fundraiser

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory


Property Search