Moroccan Wine: The Blending of Grapes, the Blending of Cultures

Posted October 18, 2016

Stacy Brody


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Brightly colored scarves.

Sweet-and-savory tagine.

Exoticism and romance.

Classic film. 

Wine isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Morocco, but it’s moving up the list since a recent in-store sampling and seminar of the wines from Ouled Thaleb.

Ouled Thaleb is Morocco’s oldest winery in operation today, with a history dating back to the 1920s. Just 12 miles north of Casablanca (a movie pairing worth trying), Ouled Thaleb benefits from the cooling effects of the ocean and the protection of the Atlas Mountains, which keep the dry, hot desert air at bay.

The winery and its wines exemplify the melding of cultures that has occurred over the centuries in this coastal nation that served as a gateway between Europe and North Africa. Morocco has an extensive winemaking history, but it wasn't really until the French came that things exploded. Wherever the French go, it seems, they bring wines and vines. This French influence started in the mid-1800s and lasted until the mid-1900s, when an era of French control came to an end. 

The country is still quite culturally diverse, as displayed in the microcosm of the Ouled Thaleb winery. The winemaker is French, as are the oak barrels. The vineyards are planted in French wine grapes. But those vineyards are also plowed by camels. The winery is named after, and operated predominantly by members of, a local tribe. The winemaking style is French-inspired, yet the wines are uniquely Moroccan, with distinctive ripeness and flavor profiles. The wines are certainly Mediterranean, similar to those of Southwest France, but there’s something quite different. Something that’s hard to put a finger on.


The wines are also surprisingly good.

The reds really steal the show, ranging from the Cabernet-dominant Medaillon to the dark berry-driven Signature Red and the sexy, smoky Ait Souala. For me, that last one was the afternoon's show-stopper.

If these wines tasted like anything you’ve tried before, why would we be putting them on boats to bring them over to the U.S.? Try these selections. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Item: 97471

750 mL

Retail: $29.99

$22.98 per btl

Item: 97472

750 mL

Retail: $29.99

$22.98 per btl

Item: 97555

750 mL

Retail: $19.99

$15.95 per btl