Friday, 23 October 2015

Moroccan Wines

It's harvest time for wine in Morocco!

Entrance to the La Ferme Rouge vinyard outside Rabat

When we moved to Morocco we were both surprised and impressed by the local Moroccan wines. We were expecting inferior quality and very simple wines but our prejudices were really put to shame. Of course Morocco, being a muslim country, has severe double standards when it comes to wine and alcohol. Acording to the Choran you are not suposed to drink but Morocco is a liberal country and you will find wine in all better restaurants and hotels. You can chose from a wide selection of both domestic and international wines both in the supermarkets and speciality wine stores. And many Moroccans enjoy wine themselves.

Some La Ferme Rouge wines

The climate and hills in Morocco are perfect for growing wine and you find vinyards both around Essaouira, Rabat and Meknes. All wine stocks are originally imported from France. Around 40 million bottles of wine are produced every year in Morocco and of those 30 million bottles are consumed in Morocco. Morocco has some 10 million tourists/year (incl  children and most tourists stay 3-4 days) so it goes without saying that Moroccans themselves enjoy many of those 40 million bottles.

Terres rouge from La Ferme Rouge vinyard

You will find wines in the stores from 4-30 Euros/bottle. You need to get above 8 Euros/bottle to find good wines and for 12-25 Euros you find some amazing ones. Although having a prosperous wine industry you are often not allowed to visit the vinyards as a private person. There are no wine tastings, tours or shops at the big vinyards. However at the small producer Val d'Argan outside Essaouira you can both visit and buy wine. Check them out if you are in the area!

View from the top of the wine tanks at La Ferme Rouge

So we were naturally excited when our friends asked us to join them for a wine tour to our favorite wine maker, the wine house of La Ferme Rouge, and a unique visit to their vinyard outside Rabat. We spent a day and (very late) evening with the passionate French owner Jack and had an amazing time. The wines of La Ferme Rouge get their special taste thanks to the vinyard being close to the ocean. Around 1,5 million bottles/year are produced here.

Part of the La Ferme Rouge collection

The vinyard is very modern and boosts impressive machines but the passion of the French owner is in every part of the process.

Grapes are harvested in September and October, so we were lucky to catch this period.

 La Ferme Rouge is the big employer in the region and many 1000 pickers worked here during harvest season.

Cabarnet grapes ready for harvest.

Work in progress.

Wine in the making.

A view over the vinyard.

Labelling process.

Ready for your glass!

Our favorite Moroccan wines:
1. Lumiere (red)
2. Ithaque, La Ferme Rouge (red)
3. Eclipse (both the red and the white one)
4. La Ferme Rouge Gris
5. Volubilis (rose)

We enjoyed a great tasting of these amazing wines, a total of 15 different ones. We were slightly tipsy towards the end of the evening.

The owner Jack introduced us to some unique cuvees straight from the barrel in his wine cellar - an amazing experience.

Here we are with our friends Maryam, Chris and wine maker Jack.

The main reason for this trip?  Well there just might be an exciting wine project coming up for someone in our little group.....