Come away with me to arid Morocco in coastal North Africa where the essence of French winemakers left their mark many years ago.
Morocco was a significant exporter of wine until 1956, when the country gained its independence from France. Now they are regaining their footing, bit by bit, to educate the world about their wines. As one might imagine, red wine is the main export for Morocco with the main French varietals being top: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Happy Wine Wednesday! Today’s 2011 wine is a deep red color. Immediate warmth. It is dry, smoky, spicy and not terribly fruity, much like the terrain from which it derives. It is not so dry to not drink on its own however. It doesn’t linger on the palate so one wonders what time in the cellar might do for this red. A second pour after letting it open brings forward some fruit like blackberry and plum. Those smoky, earthy notes continue to linger. This is an intriguing and bold red with a blend of 60% Cabernet, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah.
Established in 1923, Domaine Ouled Thaleb‘s Mediterranean vines are located 10 miles northeast of Casablanca, in Zenata, the coastal region of Morocco. They surely benefit from western cooling breezes off the Atlantic to those 100+ degree days in summer. It’s not all desert in Zenata with influences like the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Atlas Mountains so it’s quite believable that they claim to have simliar soil makeup to Bordeaux. While the wines are not certified organic, the vineyards are plowed and weeded by hand, and no herbicides or fungicides are used.
With thousands of years of winemaking history, this region is only beginning to become untapped again so watch for more Moroccan exports to come to the United States and Europe. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and care that is clearly exhibited by the Ouled Thaleb vineyard. The warmth and exotic nature of this faraway country comes through with each sip. Enjoy!
(Photo courtesy of Ouled Thaleb’s FB page.)