In 1979, Margaret Thatcher came to power, Sid Vicious died, and the Ayatolah Khomeni was voted ‘Man of the Year’ by Time Magazine.
None of which mattered very much to Henry Butler’s parents Gillian and Geoffrey.
They were busy opening their small family-run wine shop in Brighton’s Queens Park Road, with the intention of bringing interesting, characterful wines to a British public then largely unfamiliar with much beyond Black Tower and Mateus Rose (historical fact: there were only three good bottles of wine in the whole of the UK in 1979, and all of them belonged to Mick Jagger).
Now in its fourth decade, with a second retail outlet in Brighton’s Kemp Town, mail order and internet operations, and supplying many of Brighton’s best restaurants, pubs and bars, Butler’s can claim the title of Brighton’s Oldest Independent Wine Retailer.
Still very much a family business under the dynamic and imaginative management of Henry (now a fully grown man with a beard and everything), Butler’s continues to grow and develop, whilst never losing touch with its original vision: to offer the best available examples of carefully selected, realistically priced and exciting wines in a friendly, down-to-earth style.
If you are curious about wine, but have been put off by its (slowly fading but still pervasive) image of snobbish exclusivity, a visit to Butler’s should prove a breath of fresh air (but with notes of greengage, apple and a fresh light acidity).
Henry now boasts a dedicated, energetic and knowledgeable team, who are on hand to offer advice (when needed), and to help customers develop and expand their palettes and confidence when trying new wines.
Whether you’re seeking a mid-week easy-drinker, an upmarket weekend wine to accompany Sunday lunch, or an exceptional fine wine for a gift, Butler’s is able to offer appropriate choices and suggestions.
What makes Butler’s particularly special is its emphasis on getting to know small, mostly family-run, producers, with creative, inspired and innovative ideas for creating the best and most interesting wines available.
Henry’s passion for looking beyond the more traditional areas of production, has yielded some great new wines from lesser-known regions. Many of these have featured at the hugely successful wine tasting events, which are always sold out weeks in advance and have become a staple of many a Brightonian’s social life.
They’ve also meant some quite nice trips away for Henry (some of which feature in his alternative incarnation as a sort of corkscrew-wielding Max Headroom for the brilliant WineBox TV www.winebox.tv).
The result of all this zip and zeal is a cellar that is constantly re-stocked and re-invigorated with top-quality wines, with both established customer favourites and fresh new ideas.
Whatever your taste, budget, or level of knowledge, Butler’s will be able to give you ideas, soothe your anxiety (unless it’s a personal problem in which case we can’t get involved), and send you on your way with a decent bottle. What more could you ask?
Vindependents is a wine agency set up by independent merchants across the UK. We are a founder member of the Vindependents, there are currently around 20 other merchants in the group, covering the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. It was set up by merchants with a passion for new and exciting wines, and a desire to introduce them to a new audience.
Buying collectively, enables us to provide a more direct route to market for wine producers, which allows them to make more margin and spread their risk. It also allows helps in putting interesting and exclusive wines on the shelves, which are fairly priced for the consumer.
Our company is growing, which is exciting, we look forward to showing you more discoveries over the up and coming months.