If you compiled a list of the world’s most important wine producing countries, Morocco would be found closer to the bottom than the top. But it shouldn’t be that way. With a winemaking history dating back to Roman times and spanning latitudes between 30 and 35˚N (similar to Southern California), you’d expect it to be more prominent, specialising in wines in a rich, warm climate style. That was certainly how it was in the distant past, but the 2nd half of the 20th century was not kind to Morocco’s wine industry and, by 1990, ¾ of her vineyards had either been grubbed up or were useless commercially.
Happily, with the assistance of mainly foreign investment, things are beginning to change and there are now a number of producers making interesting and very drinkable wines. But, the legacy of the bad times remains and shops won’t stock wines if customers aren’t asking for them and customers can’t buy wines if shops aren’t stocking them.
So, all credit to the Wine Society (yet again!) for taking a chance and putting the delicious Tandem Syrah on their list (£11.50).
A collaboration between Crozes Hermitage producer Alain Graillot and Thalvin in Morocco, this has all the lovely blackberry fruit of a good Syrah (M.Graillot knows all about getting the best from that variety, of course) together with an attractive richness and some spicy hints from the subtle oak ageing.
As for food matches, well, thinking of North Africa, a tagine with cous-cous comes to mind – a perfect choice. But, in fact, any full-flavoured dish using red meat, aubergines or mushrooms (especially dried ones) would go well with this, as would a nice hard cheese.
And once you’ve taken the plunge and tried this bottle, why not ask your local wine merchant what else they can find from Morocco? It’s time that country realised its potential.