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Asians love wine and the Malaysians are certainly no slouches. Wine is big in Malaysia and the quality and quantity of wine drunk at hotels and the Chinese restaurants can be mind boggling. However, good wine lists at reasonable prices are not easy to find. The hotels traditionally had the best wine lists and in Kuala Lumpur this held true until recently. The ShangriLa, the Hilton at Sentral and the Grand Millennium have the best lists among the hotels but like the other hotels, the wines are expensive to outrageous with the singular exception of the Grand Millennium. This article highlights the best places with good ambience, good wine lists and reasonable prices.
Grand Millennium 160 Jln Bukit Bintang. Tel 03 2117 4888 www.millenniumhotels.com/my/millenniumkualalumpur/index.html
This hotel which is located on the busiest shopping throughfare in Kuala Lumpur had an exceptionally well balanced wine list with good wines at different price points in different styles from nearly all the wine regions. Of particular interest is the General Manager's Selection - excellent choices with some gems in respect of champagnes from highly regarded but boutique Houses, great Burgundies and some difficult to find Italian and Australian wines. Of late, the wine selection has deteriorated considerably. Instead of the difficult-to-find Italian gems and great Burgundian gems and the hard to find champagnes the new management seems to have taken the easier route and replaced the old selections with a great number of similar very mediocre wines. Prices are reasonable but the no need to come here as the wines available here can be bough in most bars.The wines by glass remain limited. . Bar snacks also could be better. Service remains very good.
Chinoz on the Park, Grd Floor, Suria Shopping Complex, KLCC. Tel 03 2166 8277
If you are in the vicinity of the Twin Towers and feeling thirsty, this great Bar and Restaurant is must. The managing partner is apparently some kind of legend in the local wine scene and looking at the wine list, his reputation is certainly deserved. They have a great wine list full of magnificent burgundies, all the top bordeaux chateaux and champagnes and some particularly interesting new world wines. Bar snacks are good. The relatively weak point in the list are the wines by the glass which do not seem to have had the same attention as the main list. Chinoz has great atmosphere but it can get busy (and too noisy) which are drawbacks. In the later evening when the crowd thin, there is a lovely view of the Gardens and the KL skyline. Great malt whisky and beer list. Service is patchy.
Hakka Republic Wine Bar and Restaurant. 2nd Flr, Menara Hap Seng, Jln P. Ramlee. Tel 03 2078 9908 www.hakkarepublic.com
This is THE place for wine lovers. The best wine bar in Kuala Lumpur. With 20 champagnes and wines served by the glass in perfect condition from the state of the art Enomatic machine, Hakka Republic has become the standard bearer in Kuala Lumpur. The wines by the glass include Gewurtzraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,Malbec ,Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc from Alsace, Argentina, Australia and Italy and at different pricepoints ranging from RM16 to RM 50. Possibly the only wine bar anywhere in the world that sells high end boutique Italian wine by the glass. The wine list is exceptional with great champagnes, and classics at every price from both Old and New worlds. New world wines include Barrats, Jasper Hill, Coriole and a marvellous inexpensive producer called Hanging Rock from Australia and Simonsig from South Africa.From Oregon there is Pinot Noir from Drouhin Estate.
In addition to all the chateaux including Lafite and Latour, the Italian wines in particular are astounding and at unbelievable prices for some of these collectibles including Amarones, Barolos, Brunellos and Super Tuscans. Producers from Italy include Dal Forno and Bussola from Veneto, Bruno Giacosa and Roberto Voerzio from Piemonte, Argiano, Siro Pacenti , Antinori, Tua Rita and Le Machiole from Tuscany. Quite Unbelievable!! The strength in Italian wine is because of one small but tenacious wine merchant in Kuala Lumpur. One anomaly is while the champagne list is very good with great champagnes from Jacquesson, Pol Roger,Krug and Duval Leroy, the most 'popular' or commercial champagnes are missing. The manager indicates that the owners are very passionate about wines and will not list any product that they feel is inferior in quality or offers poor value. Kudos to this qualitative approach and hope they can make a commercial success out of this. Bar snacks are good. Single Malt whisky and beer list is not bad at all. The ambience is very trendy with great music. Service staff need a little more training.
VINTRY Jalan Kasah, Medan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur
A little off the beaten track but biggest selection of wine in Kuala Lumpur at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, many similar styles of wines but there are some gems here. Very popular with young executive types looking for a 'cheap' bottle of wine and pork based snacks who usually pack the place. Ventilation is poor and it can get very smoky. Get here early in order to get a decent seat.