Given the traffic chaos in the capital city of Indonesia, it is important to have a ‘watering hole’ somewhere nearby. Today I would like to invite you to the Connoisseur, a small wine bar in a shopping centre in South Jakarta near to my home in Lebak Bulus.
I have lived for more than nine years in Jakarta. Many of my friends assume that Indonesia is a Muslim country and that alcohol must be hard to get. Well, the majority of Indonesian people (about 85% of the population of about 220 million people) are Muslim but in fact Indonesia is a secular state as most other states in the region. Despite the terrorist attacks in Bali and other locations, the Indonesian archipelago is a very peaceful, pluralistic and tolerant place. Wine lovers have the freedom to pursue their hobby and sample fine wines. Various wine societies and circles exist with not only expats as members but with a heavy local contingent.
In 2007, however, it’s been more difficult to get hold of fine wine than in previous years. Rumour has it that there was a problem with the import licenses and that therefore only the duty free outlets have stocks left whereas other wine sellers have run out of the liquid.
However that may be only about 10 minutes from our home is a shopping mall for the lower middle-class called ‘Citos’. This is a place bubbling with people. There are many small shops and many more little restaurants, most of them of the fast food type. On the ground floor is a small wine bar, named ‘Connoisseur’. Though the place could benefit from a renovation (some of the chairs show cigarette holes and other stains), it’s quite cosy and has a very relaxed atmosphere. The range of wines on offer is amazing. Many of the bottles on display do look a bit ‘worn’ tough with some dust accumulated and some of the labels torn. Prices seem to be reasonable. Nibbles and finger food can be ordered from the neighbouring shops and food courts.
The Connoisseur with wine racks
We went for some ‘save’ Australian red, a ‘2002 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz’ (www.wynns.com.au). The estate is located in the famous “terra rossa” strip which produces intensely concentrated flavours. The 2002 vintage was cooler than other years therefore the wines are elegant and show good structure. They are barrel aged (old and new oak) for about 11 months. The bottle looked a bit ‘battered’. Because of the tropical climate conditions in Jakarta one is never sure how wine was handled (sometimes one can find ‘cooked’ wine when containers or bottles spend too much time in the sun and the moist heat). The bottle was reasonably priced for Jakarta conditions (about 320,000 INR which is about 26 EURO). For comparison I tried to find some current Australian prices but I only found the 2003 vintage Shiraz on the internet for about 60 A$.
The wine was deep red. It showed a nose of black peppers and dark berry fruit flavours. It has a good mid palate weight and a strong finish. Margit and I enjoyed a relaxed Friday evening with a good drop of Australian wine. Come and visit us, we’ll take you there.