Living in Côte d’Ivoire, we are spoiled for choice. Even a very average supermarket in Abidjan carries an above-average selection of good quality French wines at reasonable prices. However, being the adventuresome sort, when I spotted a bottle of Moroccan wine at a decent price, I just had to give it a try.
Prior to spotting this bottle on my supermarket shelf, I was ignorant of Moroccan wines. Nonetheless, when I noticed this particular bottle (Domaine de Sahar1, Rouge, 2011) had won a silver medal at the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, I figured it had to be worth a try.
In fact, the wine turned out to be extraordinary. I uncorked it with a Tchep de Poulet (African chicken biryani) which included all the condiments (soumara, feuilles de dal, piment, etc.). What struck me at first glance was the beautiful deep purple color of the wine. Upon sipping the wine, I was struck by the rich red fruit flavors of cherry and plum. Later, a certain exotic spiciness emerged. This wine was rich, dry (but not too tannic), with just enough complexity to complement the richly seasoned rice dish it was served with. In my opinion, it was a perfect pairing.
Moroccan wine turned out to be a revelation. I was delighted to discover an entirely new (to me) African wine region dating back to the time of the Phoenecians. Guerrouane is, in fact, a region that is well known for its red wines.
In recent years, french companies have invested heavily in re-developing many of the Moroccan vineyards whose histories date back to Roman times. Domaine de Sahari is no exception. If this moderately priced wine is anything to go by, Guerrouanes certainly pack a big bang for the buck. In Côte d’Ivoire, our bottle of red wine cost just under US$9. In my books, this wine was an incredible bargain.
Our verdict: If you get the chance, try a bottle of Moroccan wine. You may encounter a pleasant surprise. The red Guerrouane from Domaine de Sahari would pair well with middle eastern tajines. It was also delicious with Tchep and would likely go well with many other dishes of Sahelian origin.