Morocco is far from a dry country. More than ten wineries are operating and new wines are coming out every year. Wines are sold at most local restaurants and over 40 million bottles of wine are consumed locally.
Already around 1950, there was 55,000 hectares of wine cultivation in Morocco, a tradition the French took with them. After the independence in 1956, Moroccos wine production declined but came back during the 1990:s. There is today five regions that produce wine and some get exported, mainly to France. The French actor Gerard Depardieu has his own Moroccan wine from Les Deux Domaine which is called Lumiere and is sold both in Morocco and abroad. The Moroccan climate is diverse with the the cool winds from the Atlantic as well as the calmer Mediterranean climate. Most wineries are in the North but there is also one just outside Essaouira which has a surprisingly warm climate. But the grapes develop well.
The grapes The most common grapes are Carignan, Cinsaut and Grenache. The red wines from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are becoming popular but is still a smaller part of the production. There is also Muscat, Clairette blanche, Chardonnay, Chenin blanc and Sauvignon blanc.
Wineries around Rabat There are a few wineries outside the capital Rabat , whereof La Ferme Rogue is the most famous. The smaller Domaine de Amal makes very nice wines and have many to choose from. Both red, white, rose and grey wines which are called “gris” in French. The cheaper line cost like 5 euro a bottle but they do good. The highest line with the grand cuvee costs around 12 euro. Taxes are high in Morocco and the same quality of wines are sold for 2-4 euro lower in Tunisia. A general advise in Morocco is that wines over 10 euro are good and for 20 euro you can get really interesting ones. In the 5 euro category you have to test your way through many bad wines and some that will surprise you.
Where to buy the wines ? Alcohol can only be sold in special shops, often connected with the supermarket chain Carrefour. But there are also many small shops in every town. Search for the phrase “Cave a vin” and you will find many. The chain Nicolas has a number of shops in Morocco and sell both local and international wines. Only in the small capital Rabat you can find more than ten alcohol shops.
The best way to learn about Moroccan wines is to do a tasting by grape or color. White and grey wines do quite good in northern Africa and are widely grown in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The grey wines are very similar to white but has often some surprising hints.
Wineries easy to visit Domaine Ouled Thaleb most popular wines are Medaillon (Cabernet) and Tandem (Syrah). Tandem is a really interesting wine with good taste and structure. Medaillon is very easy to find at most restaurants but there is also a rose Medaillon that is good.
If you are on the way to Essaoira and Marrakech, make a visit at Val d Argan which makes good wines despite the hot climate and sandy terroir. They have a big winery with tasting room for tastings. Easy to access from the main road.
Many wineries are around Fes and Meknes among hills and valleys. Thats also the region where much olives are grown. Domaine de la Zouina outside Meknes is easy to reach from Rabat.
When it comes to the grapes, Syrah might be the most interesting one here. Many wines are blended but there are many pure Syrah wines that are really good. If you are planning a tasting with red, make it Syrah. Val d Argan has one of the most expensive wines in Morocco. Since the taxes are high, Orian might be a bit overpriced but its a really good wine.
This is just a very brief introduction to Moroccan wines. A deeper dive will be published later on.
Jonathan Gharbi de Maré