Happy Wine Wednesday! Your source for wine tourism across the globe. Today, we’re highlighting the wines near Casablanca and Rabat, Morocco. Known for their robust reds, Moroccan wine is influenced by a mix of Mediterranean and mountainous climate. Check it out!
History of Moroccan Wine
Though Moroccan wine is relatively new on the global market, the history of it goes back thousands of years. Moroccan wine production dates to the Phoenician and Roman era, but was unfortunately lost when the Islamic expansion, and their ban on alcohol, took effect. It was only under French colonial rule in the 19th century that the ancient oenological art was revived.
In 1990, King Hassan II sought assistance from French winemakers in an effort to revitalize the industry. Now, Morocco is the second largest producer of wine in North Africa after Algeria. The country is home to seven wine regions and fourteen AOG or “guaranteed appellation of origin” and two “controlled appellation of origin.”
As for the vineyards, nearly all are scattered along the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. The proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea ensures a good climate with maritime characteristics for the wine. The main varieties produced here are red – about 70% to be precise. And of those red, the favored grape varieties come from the Rhône region of France: Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
There are a few white varieties produced and these include Vin Gris, a grayish-blue variety made from Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillion, and Chardonnay.
Domaine Ouled Thaleb
About 20 miles northeast of Casablanca, you’ll find this charming winery whose soil is similar to that of Bordeaux. Sandy shale, gravel sand, and the close proximity to the sea lend a pleasant mineral quality to the wine.
Founded in 1923, the winery is the oldest in Morocco. Hand-harvesting techniques are used to keep the process as traditional as possible.
When you visit, make sure to try the Ouled Thaleb Signature. It blends several grape varieties to produce a wine that is both fruity and floral with a lovely chocolate finish. Oh! And don’t forget to have a bite at the local eatery, Le Ryad Du Vigneron, which serves a fusion of French and Moroccan cuisine.
Located a few hours outside of Rabat, this winery was the first in the country permitted to use the title of “château” in their name. Several lines of premium wine are produced in their extraordinary cellar which holds a staggering 3 million bottles.
The Ksar Rouge is a nice blended red: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Syrah. You’ll notice hints of plum and berry with cherries, prunes, and a soft quality for a lovely finish.
If you’re a fan of whites, try the Premier Cru White. Crafted of 100% Chardonnay grapes, this light wine is the perfect refresher in the hot climate. See if you can detect the notes of vanilla, peach, and nectarine.
Romaine du Val d’Argan
Harvesting, cultivation, and experimentation at Val d’Argan is all carefully monitored by a wine expert with over 40 years of experience. Additionally, he comes from an Algerian wine growing background. As such, wines here capture the essence of North Africa wine tradition.
The bed and breakfast onsite provides a cozy getaway for guests looking for an extended stay. Rooms are built in the traditional style of stone, lime, and wood and every guest is free to roam the garden or cool off in the pool.
The Red Argan Val line offers an intense, rich experience. This full-bodied red is bursting with tannins and black fruits. Their rosé offers a subtler taste with heavy floral notes and a sweet finish.
Zouina endeavors to appeal to all manner of wine lovers from those new to the wine scene to foodies seeking an immersive experience. Four different tours are available, depending on your preferences.
“Vine to Wine”
This brief tour showcases the vineyard, vat room, and tasting of three wines.
Tour the facilities plus a tasting of the higher quality wine and a food pairing with locally grown olives, dried fruit, and regional goat cheese.
“Garden of Delights”
Facility tour plus five wines paired with five different chocolates.
Tour of the vineyard, five wine tastings, and a full lunch to complete your visit.