I caught a last minute flight to Kuala Lumpur (KL) over New Years. It was my first time there, and I was surprised at how sprawling it is. Completely different feel from Singapore, it's less cultured cousin to the South. The reason I can say that is because KL pulses with Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and other internationals like no place I've ever seen. If Singapore is the brightly scrubbed shopping mall of the East, than KL is the dirtier, funkier farmer's market both falling apart and booming at the same time.
The reason for my visit was to see some old friends and to explore the wine scene in KL. I'd heard it was a difficult market to enter. Regardless, I was in the company of two very dear friends from the Paris days of 1989-1990 and their now burgeoning families. To be honest it was a very peaceful experience, and I was able to pick up a book for the first time in ages and sit back and read. Also checked out the mesmerising Zinedine Zidane video, called "Zidane: a 21st Century Portrait". The concept was to train 32 cameras on the popular French footballer from different angles and follow him for the full extent of a match when he played for the club team Real Madrid. As a unique real-time study of one of the beautiful game's greatest icons, it is totally absorbing.
KL was hot, and activities were kept to reading, watching movies, and swimming. Oh, and drinking wine, lots of wine. We conquered the supermarket section with a zeal comparable to looting an open bank vault. Wine is not cheap in KL, and your average 20$ bottle here in Oz sells for double that, and it's really only the big brands that have shelf space; the Yalumbas, Penfolds, and Jacobs Creeks of the Antipodes. But that's not all that bad actually, as both Penfolds and Yalumba have good wines across the board. What was sad was the crap bulk wines made up for export that jammed the shelves. We also drank a fair bit of NZ wine and some decent Beaujolais from Jadot. Oh, and a nice array of Alsatian rieslings, for some reason.
We drank well enough, however, with a 2000 Dom Perignon and 2000 Chateauneuf from Beaucastel dueling for wine of the night of the New Years Eve festivities. The Thorpe Shiraz was right up there in my mates' eyes, God Bless them. Somehow, I don't see us selling much wine here, unless we get in with a hotel, but that sounds a bit shady from what I learned. Be better off throwing a burning coconut against the ground and shattering it.
We did have a noteworthy dinner at Frangipani restaurant, considered KL's top French spot. It was good, and the company was first rate. They had the 2008 Macon-Milly-Lamartine from Dominique Lafon, which punched way above its weight and is delicious. If the wine and beer is pricey in KL, at least the food is value-driven. You can eat like the King of Siam, and the food stalls all around town serve up great no fuss Asian and Indian food. Really, KL is about curry and cold beer, and the singing sounds of prayer calls over loudspeakers in the neighbourhoods. Something kind of peaceful about that. And humidity, it's about that, too. Which is what the cold beer, pool, and curry are for. And around it goes.