Sunday, 15 November 2015

Domaine Laurent Merlot – Malaysia’s Most Expensive Wine

Domaine Laurent Merlot – Malaysia’s Most Expensive Wine - Tongkat Ali Infused Wine

Words by Kirsten Durward, Photos by Monica Tindall (The Yum List

Tonight I am having my initiation into the wonderful and mysterious world of Asian aphrodisiacs. Jia De Bao Group Malaysia has decided to venture forth with something a little different for the local market. A Chinese artist, Professor Liu Min, wished to apply his interest in Tongkat Ali, a herb known for its aphrodisiac qualities. Infusing an Australian merlot with Tongat Ali might not be something the purists amongst us would leap to try, but I always relish the opportunity to try something new. And you have to admit that it is a unique idea. For sure there is no other Tongkat Ali red wine being produced right now! 

The challenge was always going to be blending a wine where the herb flavours of the aphrodisiac did not overwhelm the taste of the actual wine. For this challenge, Count John Umberto Salvi, Master of Wine, applied his more than 60 years of industry experience, to melding the bitterness of Tongkat Ali with the fruity flavours of blackberry and plum in the imported merlot.   

And here we are, waiting to taste the resulting mélange. As we’re tasting a tipple that is really quite unique we thought it would be beneficial to have some expert opinions on hand and luckily Monica has just the right contacts. It might be hard to believe if you’re a regular reader of the blog, but Jonathan from Wine Zen and David from Wine Talks individually have more tasting experience than both of us put together. Plus of course, they will bring that all-important male perspective as to the effectiveness of the aphrodisiac.

We all know that wine enhances food, but the right food can also bring resonance to the drinking experience. What to pair with an aphrodisiac style wine? A little research suggested that the herby nature of the Tongat Ali infused wine would be best served by the hearty local flavours of Bak Kut Teh. But the European in me can’t quite let go, so we’ve supplemented in the same taste zones with some porky cold cuts, marinated olives and herby cream cheese - everything to ensure that we allow the bottle to perform to its maximum potential.

The heavens have opened and thunder is crashing as our experts arrive. It is a dramatic setting for our tentative first pouring. Jonathan has brought along a superb decanting device, to provide aeration to the wine that will provoke the nose of the wine. We decide to try with aeration and without to note the difference. On first observation, we notice a lot of foam in both pourings. You would definitely want to know that this is expected in what you are drinking. Our experts think the bubbles may be caused by a slight fermentation in the blend, and this is confirmed when we taste, there is a definite fizziness as well as the herby bitterness.

The experts pass the colour of the wine, calling it ‘fine – there is no browning.’  Muted fruit aromas are present, together with the vegetal side of the wine, a little green stalkiness is observed. But as the tastes are quite delicate, we decide it needs to be more chilled in order to bring out more of the acidity.

Which leaves time to prepare and put out the bak kut teh to see how the tastes go together. Pork eating Malaysian readers will be au fait with the delights of this dish, with its various cuts of pork and heady aromatic soup. A carboholic dish with rice in the bowl and tempting savoury beignets that are soaked in the delicious sweet broth. I could wax lyrical about this broth for lines and lines, but suffice to say, if you have not tried this, you must! It’s a true Malaysian delicacy and you won’t find it elsewhere in the world. Don’t miss out. 

But back to the focus of the evening, Domaine Laurent. After a further thirty minutes of chilling we are back for a second taste. There is a detectable improvement, but it still comes up short on tannins and wine feel in general, although we do agree that the bitter nature of the herb is somewhat intriguing. We feel it more as a herbed alcoholic drink rather than a fine wine and would advocate tasting it with that thought in mind, hunt for the mystique of the concoction rather than comparing it to wine per se. 

The visual branding with the Malaysian tiger and Chinese dragon symbols epitomises strength, and strength is something that men are looking for from their aphrodisiac. No doubt this will be popular with wealthy mainland Chinese gentlemen out to make a big impression. For us, we can certainly concur that it is unique: nothing else like this on the market for sure.  

Reasons to try: A one off – nothing you will have ever tried before.

Domaine Laurent Merlot is available at the Dorsett Grand Subang as well as The Forking Cork, a new wine and whisky entrepreneur bar in Taman OUG, Kuala Lumpur.


  1. Interesting. Nice label! I don't drink wine but I may use it for cooking sometimes. Since you say there is that herbal taste in this one, it may be good for that.

    1. At RM2000 a bottle, someone would probably shoot you if you used it for cooking... either that or they'd claim you as the next great chef and pay you lots of money for your dishes. ;-)

  2. Replies
    1. One of my friends judges wine by the design of the label. She says she hasn't been wrong yet. ;-)

  3. Kirsten, Monica and El Caning Cordobes Jnr.
    At present with the events in Paris - may I say - "Je Suis Francais".
    We must stand united after this outrage of violence.

    I see this Domaine Laurent Melot on "Google" already has your above on it???
    Well done.
    I looked really so see if this wine which has a French sounding name was
    produced in what area of France. However, Swiss also is mentioned plus Bordeau and an
    infusion by Malay wine people - the "v" word which I can NEVER spell or find when I need it.
    I do like Merlot wines.
    Cheers and remember France
    El Colin Cordobes

    1. We will do. Love and compassion goes out to all of those who have lost.
      Thanks to you I just googled it too - out on top over here as well (did you know google gives you different results depending on the location you are searching from and your browsing history?) Two people might enter exactly the same key search terms and get different results.
      Cheers, Monica

    2. I just entered the name of the wine.

  4. My late dad used to always drink a Merlot and i use it for cooking sometimes. ...
    The description is good..

  5. I'm a sucker for the label too - and this one is awesome! Not so sure about the aphrodisiac - doesn't red wine suppress the libido?? SO maybe the herbs just bring the drinker back to normal!!!

  6. No way! Really?!
    Oh boy, did they actually tell you the meaning of Jia de Bao in Chinese?!
    It's Family Jewels! Ha ha!
    The tiger? Isn't that a copy from out coat of arms too!?

  7. I drink a little wine but didn't know much about wine. Interesting for me to learn something new here.