With guests assembled and palates prepped for an evening of wine-tasting warfare, Henry Butler of Brighton’s Butlers Wine Cellar began his address to the room gently, with heartfelt thanks to the DGH and to the essential support the Friends gives it. Elaborating a little on his own experience of prostate cancer, Henry gave a nod to Consultant Urologist Dr Peter Rimington who was attending the event, and applauded the Friends 2022 Special Project which has now funded the replacement of the Da Vinci surgical robot in Urology, and which will consequently see the successful treatment of hundreds more cases of urological and prostate cancers. And then, he turned to his co-presenter Tom Surgey and, setting the tone for the rest of the evening, criticised his outfit choice.
Entirely unaffected, wine presenter Tom let battle commence, selecting a Muscadet to kick things off in the first of three rounds which would see the two wine experts go head to head, each trying to convince the wine-tasting crowd that the wine they had selected was the superior bottle. Given a time limit for each pitch, and both consistently ignoring the alarm which signalled the end of it, Tom and Henry took our guests on a trip through their chosen whites, rosés and then reds, educating their audience on the grapes, the vintage, the regions and the producers. Their whites were the Muscadet Cognettes and the Eclipse Vin de France, Jurançon, with the former securing the first win of the evening for Tom. The rosés went Henry’s way, with his Ruschette Dorée Côtes du Rhône beating Tom’s Cerisiers, also a Côtes du Rhône, and which, in an unexpected and unintentional twist, turned out to be exactly the same wine just in a different bottle. Having accidentally pitched exactly the same wine, did Henry’s win mean it was his presentation that must have been superior? If it did, he didn’t gloat. Much.
It was all to pour for then, in the final, red round. Suffice it to say, both brought out the big guns – Tom’s was Portugal’s ALF, Terra Alter, where Henry went with the Italian Gran Passione. In asides which we’re sure weren’t intended to influence the crowd, we learned that Henry Butler was recently married as he raised one of his glasses to his lovely wife (and keeper of the largely redundant timer) Cassie; information which Tom was quick to meet with the news that he and his wife (whom he name-dropped as the daughter of the Friends’ Chairman Harry Walmsley) had started a family since his and Henry’s last meeting.
In the closest count of the evening, the third and final vote went to Henry Butler who, applauded sincerely by Tom, lifted the trophy and announced that any sales generated as a result of the evening would include a 10% donation to the Friends. We thank him for this generous donation, and we thank the fantastic trio of Tom, Henry and Cassie for providing such a fun, informative and full-flavoured evening. The full figure is yet to be calculated, but we estimate our fundraising from the evening to have tipped over £1000.
Thanks also to everyone who came, tasted and voted, and to The Hawthorns for providing our venue for the evening.