2/F, 32 Cochrane St, Central
I'm sure everyone's seen the sign while cruising up the Central Escalators to Soho: "free wine tasting every Friday". Well this Friday instead of continuing upwards on the world's longest outdoor covered escalator system we jumped ship and stuck out heads into Vartex Wines to see what the story was.
In many ways Vartex Wines is a typical Hong Kong wine retailer; their selection includes wines from the usual French regions, a smattering of Italian reds and German whites and plenty of New World offerings. The most interesting thing about their range is the number of South African wines on offer. The New Zealand and Australia bottles displayed were of sound quality and I was particularly impressed to see wine from outstanding Beechworth producer Battely. Vartex Wine is the retail arm of Victory Wines, an importer specialising in South African wine.
The tasting was extremely casual, a few bottles are opened and passed around, people came and went, and the staff casually chatted with customers. I enjoyed the four South African wines we tried with the Chamonix Syrah being especially good. The show is run by Adrian Lee, a friendly bloke with an obvious passion for wine. I loved the easy going casualness of the tasting; it seemed almost as much a chance for the staff to wind down the week as a way to sell wine. The free tastings are casual and relaxed making Vartex Wine a worthwhile Friday night stop on the way to dinner or the pub.