Tasting at The Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence

Jackie Sadek, chief executive of UK Regeneration described her view of our tasting at The Portuguese Ambassador’s Residence in her excellent blog for the Estate’s Gazette.

The Elegant Charm of Portuguese Wines

There was a lot going on last night and it is a sad fact of life that you can’t be in two places at once. I was sorry to have to miss the Mishcon de Reya party, as it is always a stylish affair (and by all accounts this year was no exception). However, by the same token, you’ll appreciate I wasn’t in the least bit sorry to be missing the Land Aid CBRE Property Peak Challenge, although I followed on Twitter (!) and was greatly amused by tales of the ambulance standing by (blimey, I’d nearly had a heart attack earlier in the day hiking up and down the hills of Sheffield with the ever-energetic Tim Bottrill of Knight Frank!) But my huge congratulations to all that took part in that noble effort, I understand huge piles of wonga were raised for Land Aid and I trust you all enjoyed your beer at the summit. Good on you, Joanna and team. Well done to all.

But I had a prior engagement to both of these. I was extremely privileged to be invited to an event at the Portuguese Embassy last night doncha know? In one of the most elegant endeavours I have encountered, it was a joy to rock up and support Carolyn and Robin Butler (yes, that’s right, our Robin Butler, Urban & Civic and ex-Chelsfield Robin Butler) who have launched a Portuguese wine importing business, with – but of course (doesn’t everybody?) – a wine tasting at the Portuguese Embassy. And what a glittery affair it was! Despite the rival events last night, a huge number of the property crowd crammed in to taste the reds, the whites, the roses and the dessert wines.

Almost all the old Chelsfield crowd were there (and lovely to meet Mr Deirdre). And assorted other luminaries and oddballs. David Lock and Ian Marcus were spotted. George Nicholson. I think I even saw Kate Hoey! Nigel Hugill was wearing a beautiful pink shirt (although I was a little disappointed as someone had told me that he was going to attend in full Shakespearian costume). Robin’s polo folk were there in force and what a charming clutch of gents they turned out to be. I was a wee bit flummoxed when Robin introduced me to His Excellency himself (possibly the most elegantly attired and dapper man I’ve met since I first laid eyes on Sid Sporle!) but what a delight he was, all ease and charm, as he told me the history of the fine tapestries and oil paintings that adorn that opulent room in the corner of Belgrave Square. Altogether, a thoroughly lovely bunch of folk were assembled. It was tres tres elegant.

And the wines were simply superb. Not that I’m much of an expert of course (a bottle of cheap Pinot Grigio from the local garage being my normal mark) but there was a splendid little book explaining them all, their history and provenance. And they are all sourced with love and patience from suppliers who really care. Of course, the room roughly cleaved into those that were doing it properly (that is, spitting it out between tastings) and those that were in for the craic, such as Alistair Parker of Cushman and Wakefield and…er… yours truly (you won’t be surprised to hear about either of those, but I won’t name who else was in the badly-behaved-category).

Robin has always been a delight, as everyone in the industry knows. And Carolyn Butler is a truly lovely person. And the Butlers are truly great together; there was certainly a lot of love flying around that room (albeit of a rather posh variety). And Carolyn has a serious business proposition on her hands there, Portuguese wines are much under-appreciated and much trade was being plied on the night. The website is fresh, and easy to get around, and I reckon they will go from strength to strength. How can a company founded on such sound principles of love and attention to quality possibly fail? It is all so life enhancing. And they also have this project whereby they’re going to take a cohort of British kids and train them up in the wine trade as specialists in Portuguese wines, as they grow this new market. There was no speechifying at the bash (I think that Carolyn and Robin wanted the wines to speak for themselves) so we didn’t get to hear much about that particular scheme last night, but as Robin commented privately, “Here we go. Here’s to ‘commercial philanthropy’.” As well as sponsoring trainee winemakers, it is also their intention, after investing back into the business, to allocate any profits to selected charities. Carolyn says rather charmingly, “One can dream….but that’s the plan!”

I’m very pleased to be associated with this and very excited by it all. So of course I have pledged my support and assistance wherever it can be of use.