Moroccan Wine: A Pleasant Surprise, by Andrew Harper

When I told a friend about how I had been pleasantly surprised by the quality of Moroccan wine, he exclaimed, “You can drink in Morocco? I thought it was a Muslim country.” Morocco may forbid drinking in public, but alcohol is not hard to come by in restaurants and hotels. Indeed, the Royal Mansour hotel mixes superb craft cocktails and has a wine cellar with no fewer than 17 vintages of Château Margaux and 18 of Château Lafite Rothschild. Much to the relief of my accountant, I confined myself mostly to Moroccan bottlings. It amazes me how far the local wine industry has come in the past 10 to 15 years. Two successive kings have encouraged outside investment in vineyards and wineries, and that encouragement is paying off. Most wine lists now give pride of place to local wines, which come from vineyards near the moderating breezes of the Atlantic or the cool foothills of the Atlas Mountains. If you pick a Moroccan wine at random from a list, you’re likely to discover something at least drinkable. But there are ways to maximize your chances of ordering something delicious. WHAT TO AVOID First, I recommend generally avoiding white wines, which tend to be rudimentary. The worst was a Médaillon Sauvignon Blanc, which had aggressive acids and an off-putting artificial note when paired with seafood. Even a fairly expensive glass of Château Roslane Premier Cru Blanc from the Coteaux de l’Atlas appellation was over-oaked. The only memorable white I had was the CB Initiales Chardonnay by Thalvin’s Domaine Ouled Thaleb. If you’re a white-wine drinker, opt instead for a vin gris, a wine made from dark-skinned grapes vinified as if they were white grapes (the juice spends little to no time in contact with the skins). These wines tend to be appealingly fruity, round and spicy. I also had good luck with Moroccan rosés, which were ripe, lively and dry. WHAT TO DRINK Reds ranged from innocuous to delicious. In contrast to its Sauvignon Blanc, Médaillon’s inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon was well-balanced, and the Château Roslane Premier Cru Rouge came with rich fruit buoyed by freshness, some refined white-pepper spice and well-integrated tannins. I also enjoyed La Ferme Rouge’s Terres Rouges from the Côtes de Rommani appellation, which tasted darkly fruity, with ample acids and spice for balance. And the Comtesse de Lacourtablaise offered intriguing smoky and savory notes. HOW TO ORDER Wine lists vary greatly in terms of the information they provide. Some include geographical as well as varietal information, but some list only the names of the wine. Your server likely won’t know much about the wines, even if he or she does drink alcohol. Nevertheless, there’s no reason to settle for overpriced foreign imports. If you keep to vin gris, rosé and red and watch for AOC-designated options, you’ll likely have some surprisingly pleasant experiences with Moroccan wine. --- Delectable is excited to partner with travel publication Andrew Harper to bring you fresh articles on travel and wine. Andrew Harper has a team of editors crisscrossing continents seeking out unparalleled properties in the most enchanting destinations worldwide. Delectable readers are invited to sign up for a free guest pass to get member-exclusive content from Andrew Harper. This article originally appeared on Andrew Harper's website at Moroccan Wine: A Pleasant Surprise .

Les Celliers de Meknes

Château Roslane Les Coteaux de L'Atlas 1er Cru Red Blend 2014

Very good vintage for this wine. Elegant and balanced. Aromas of plum, black currant, licorice, tobacco and chocolate. Acidity is very good, tannins are pleasant. Palate is rich with cherry and spices, longish aftertaste — a month ago

GV, Maria and 1 other liked this

Thalvin

Selectionne Médaillon Vin du Maroc Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2015

Domaine de Ouled Thaleb - Cabernet "Medaillon" 2015.
Moroccan wines really surprised me and this Medaillon is the best one until now. Do try this at home.
— 4 months ago

Berry and Willem liked this

Domaine de Sahari

Guerrouane

I like it better every time I taste it. It has a very full mouth feel with bracing acidity that passes after it's been in the glass for maybe 30 minutes. I get the sense if not the scent of strawberries and pear. Truly punches above its weight. — a year ago

Maria liked this

Domaine des Ouled Thaleb

Syrocco Zenata Syrah 2012

Forgot to take a picture of this yesterday when I tried. I had 2012 vintage. Really cool wine made by Alain Graillot in conjunction with this winery in Morocco. Clearly Syrah but with a bit more new world notes. Lot of acidity as to be expected from Graillot. Good stuff. — 2 years ago

Matt liked this

Thalvin

S de Siroua Syrah 2012

Excellent. Drinking beautifully with silky integrated tannin and juicy acidity. Mostly a balanced fruit profile, starting with light red fruits like strawberry and quickly changing and finishing with blueberries and blackberry. — a year ago

Lee, Matthew and 2 others liked this

Les Celliers de Meknes

Beauvallon Rouge Carignan 2013

Fantastic wine from Morocco while on holiday...100% Carignan and a great pop and pour! Silky smooth and deep red. Had with fresh fish but great with a meat tagine and local Moroccan music. — a year ago

Mike, Daniel P. and 3 others liked this

Domaine des Ouled Thaleb

Médaillon Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

2012, 60% cab, 30 Merlot, 10 Syrah. Pretty nose with tons of violets. Good acidity and brightness. — 3 years ago

Jeff, Cristóbal and 1 other liked this

Les Deux Domaines

Eclipse Grenache 2011

Andrew Stover
9.9

2011 Eclipse Grenache Syrah Vin du Maroc. Over the top violet and crushed raspberry notes mixed with wild berry red cherry and baking spice. Soft and silky. #moroccanwine #morocco — 5 years ago

Armin liked this

Les Celliers de Meknes

Domaine Riad Jamil Zniber Beni M'Tir 2014

A little dry. Big on spice. Still fruit forward. Lovely. Didn't know Morocco made wine! Recommended by the host. — 10 months ago

David Sanchez
with David
Ken and Maria liked this