Morocco: Here's Looking at You, Kid

Sunny Morocco in northern Africa is famed the world over for many things, but wine has never been at the forefront because the Muslim-heavy population doesn't drink alcohol. Luckily, since the mid-1990s these wines have increased their presence on the international market thanks to foreign investment, because the climate is perfect for growing popular red varieties, especially Carignan, Cinsault, Alicante and Garnacha (popular in Cote du Rhone-style blends), as well as increasing quantities of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah.

In the vineyards at Ouled ThalebDomain Ouled Thaleb has been producing mostly estate-grown, organic wines since 1923. Premier recently picked up two of their delicious, traditionally-styled reds, which the staff fell in love with immediately.
The (blue) red blend is comprised of Cabernet and Garnacha, an unconventional combination that works. The bold, muscular tannins, robust spice and black fruit of the Cab dominate, while the Garnacha add vibrancy and tart cherry notes. This is a wine that appeals universally to red drinkers and pairs with a range of dishes from chicken to lentils to steak.

On the other end of the spectrum, the (red) Syrah is super traditional and rustic. Lots of earth, smoke and herbs on both the nose and palate mean this wine isn't for everyone, but it will be an exciting treat for fans of northern Rhone wines or aged Riojas. There's definitely tons of blackberry and plum fruit notes to be had, but the mushroom, herbs de Provence and leather add layers and layers of complexity and make this a superb pairing with slow-cooked or roasted meats, especially those with tons of spices.

If these wines are a window into what we can expect from Morocco in the future, I'm definitely looking forward to what's coming.