The wine culture

of Morocco

wine culture of marocco
The expansion of the trade-friendly and agriculture-experienced Phoenicians allowed the vine to travel from the Levant to North Africa: all the way to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria and in the 2nd millennium BC also to today's Morocco. The Romans came to north africa in the middle of the 1st century and intensified viticulture. They named their new province Mauretania, which has nothing to do with today's state of Mauretania, and introduced further grape varieties from the Mediterranean countries. Around 700 AC, the region was taken over by the Arabs and Islamised, which brought viticulture to a complete stop for centuries.
Marocco & France
The turning point was the collaps of the Ottoman empire, when Marocco came under French protectorate in 1912 resulting in the complete french control over in the country in 1934. French settlers came into the country, planted vineyards and revived the viticulture. In 1956 Morocco regained its independence and prohibited the export of wine to France. And in 1973, the french vineyards were expropriated from their owner, which produced about three million hectolitres of wine. In 1980, the Moroccan state took over most of the vineyards and drastically reduced production. And they produced only about 350,000 hectolitres of wine in the year 2000 - with a vineyard area of 49,000 hectares. Most of the harvest went into table grapes.
But then there was a change in thinking: they considered to produce premium wines again and took advices from French wine experts. The vineyards, which were almost completely destroyed, were rebuilt with the support of the state and the selection of the grape varieties weren't limited to the traditional French grapes anymore. So that they could work local varieties. This resulted in Morocco becoming one of the largest wine producers in the Islamic world: They currently produce about 35 million bottles, which brings the state millions in tax revenues. Despite the official alcohol ban in the country, wineries stay in the country in order to develop the vineyards. Especially when it comes to continental red wines, Morocco enjoys an excellent reputation alongside South Africa.
maroccean wines
maroccean desert
However, it is a great challenge to produce good to excellent wines on the southern edge of the wine-growing zone. Artificial irrigation is allowed, but only to a limited extent. Careful selection of the grapes during the harvest and strict temperature control are a must for the winemakers. And a very special problem in Moroccan viticulture is the chergui or sharqi, a hot dry wind from the Sahara. Similar to the Schirokko, it allows the grapes to dry out and becaome raisins within a very short time. All in all, Marocco has about 25 grape varieties. Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache Noir and Gris, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Muscat and Syrah are varieties, which are coping the best with the maroccean climate and terroir.
Now they also cultivated Clairette, Mourvèdre, Muscat d´Alexandrie, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah in addition to local varieties,. And in 1956 the AOG appellation system (Appellation d'Origine Garantie) was established, which was based on the French model and strictly observed and monitored. The most important and best area of cultivation is the Fèz-Meknèz region with the appellations Sais, Beni Sadden, Beni M'Tir, Guerrouane and Zerkhoun. They cultivate Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache on these northern foothills of the Atlas mountains, which contains about 85% of the entire wine production of Marocco. The appellations Chellah, Gharb, Zaer and Zemmour are located on the east coast near the capital Rabat and Berkane-Oujda and the border to Algeria. And last but not least there the regions Doukkala, Sahel and Zennata in the south around Casablanca.
maroccean grape verieties
maroccean cultivation
The largest wineries are Celliers de Meknès and the Domaine de Sahari, which is owned by the state built in 1993. This winery, for example, produces an excellent AOG cuvée called Rouge de Guerrouane, which is made from Cinsaut, Carignan, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet and Syrah. Other wines are vinified from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Celliers de Meknès, which was founded in 1964, now cultivates a huge vineyard consisting of 2100 hectares and produces 24 million bottles a year. Thus, it surpasses the potential of all European wineries and is now only comparable with Australian, Californian or Chilean large-scale enterprises. The offer of Celliers de Meknès ranges from country wine, sparkling wine up to top Bordeaux-Style wines from Château Roslane, a stylish and traditional winery with a huge vaulted cellar with French oak barrels.
If you are just thinking about which Moroccan wine you should try first, we will gladly give you a little hint: Gris de Domaine de Sahari, a well-structured Rosé with plentiy of red fruit aromas. And now have fun browsing through our exotic top wines!
Text researched and developed by Charlotte Münch. © Copyright & all other rights and/or licenses of texts on weinstore24 belong to