Butler’s Wine Cellar claims to be Brighton’s oldest independent wine merchant, yet it was only founded by Henry’s parents in 1979. It used to have a big reputation among secretive wine obsessives as one of the best places in the country to find well priced Cru Classé Bordeaux. There is hardly such a thing these days and under Henry the shop has almost reinvented itself, selling exciting, innovative and adventurous wines to those willing to make the journey.
Although Butler’s has a second branch now in Brighton’s Kemp Town, it’s the original Queen’s Park Road store where you’ll often find Henry, or maybe his able aide de camp Cassie, among shelves which require serious attention. If you have time. Butler’s is not the kind of merchant which has a list as such, but one which will stock pretty much anything they come across which they are enthusiastic about. It is somewhere that, in the spirit of the original, you will still find some real gems.
It’s difficult to list the strengths briefly. English fizz has become a bit of a specialism, not surprisingly, and you’ll find bottles from Wiston, Sugrue-Pierre etc. There are some very fine wines from Australia, excellent mid-price New Zealanders you might not have come across, a few New Californians, plenty of excellent Iberians (usually strong on Niepoort), but also a few difficult to find Austrians well worth a look, including Hirtzberger (Wachau), or Wieninger from Vienna. This is without mentioning the shelves of fine French wine from Burgundy and The Rhone. But the mix changes according to what Henry can find. Unquestionably 10/10 for browsing potential.
Butler’s does have a web site, but the stores are a real pleasure to visit. I remember finding this Aladdin’s Cave many years ago, yet every visit I’m just as likely to stumble upon some treasure as if I’m shuffling around the attic. Only because Henry and his staff have both a deep knowledge of, and passion for, wine is this possible. If you are down in Brighton, take a look.
Butler’s Wine Cellar 247 Queen’s Park Road http://www.butlers-winecellar.co.uk/
Also in Kemp Town, 88 St George’s Rd.