Guerrouane: A Holiday Revelation from Morocco

Guerroane, Domaine de Sahari Rouge, MoroccoAs I went about my festive shopping this year, I was in a budget-conscious mode.  So, I was hunting for wines that would deliver big flavor without breaking the bank.

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.

10 responses to “Guerrouane: A Holiday Revelation from Morocco

    • Merry Christmas Stefano! Unfortunately, the grape varieties aren’t listed on the bottle. However, the best information I have is that Domaine de Sahari uses a blend of Cabernet and Merlot grapes. This information is consistent with the wine’s flavor. The Meknes region (where it comes from) has apparently been known for red grape varieties for 2000 years though. So, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t another old-fashioned grape variety in the mix. I’d love to have your expert opinion if you can get your hands on a bottle:-)

      • Thank you, Jeanette! I am intrigued by this Moroccan Bordeaux-style blend and will see if I can get a bottle here in New England: I will let you know. BTW, I have *loved* your series on MCC wines, which I was not aware of and also got me intrigued to try them out – I will try to find a bottle around here. Finally, a little request for you for whenever you have time and feel like it: would you please post a review/recommendation about Vin de Constance? I studied it, heard great things abouit, but unfortunately I have not had a hance to taste it yet, so I would be looking forward to your expert advice to guide me in my quest for a good bottle!
        Thank you and congratulations on a great blog and excellent posts!
        Take care

      • Hi Stefano! I’m so glad you enjoyed the posts and really look forward to your feedback on the wines. It will absolutely be my pleasure to try to find a good vin de Constance to review. I’ve had several. However, sadly, I haven’t yet found one I really enjoyed. I promise to make it a priority in 2013 though!

    • Don’t feel bad. I was every bit as ignorant myself; but, it did turn out to be a nice surprise:-). I’m definitely going to be trying more Moroccan wines myself. Would love to go there & learn more about them:-)

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