The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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88 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } APRIL/MAY 2016 { wine heritage } Morocco's METAMORPHOSIS THE FORMER FRENCH COLONY IN NORTH AFRICA REVIVES ITS WINEMAKING TRADITION by Christy Canterbury, MW At 2,000 feet in altitude, vineyards at Château Roslane have sandy Terra Rossa soil, known locally as hamri. A Moroccan harvest in progress. Most harvesting is done by women. "KISS ME. KISS ME AS IF IT WERE THE LAST TIME," demanded Ilsa in the classic romantic movie Casablanca. That may well have been what Moroccan vine growers and French winemakers felt during the French exodus after Morocco gained its independence in 1956, 14 years after the movie's debut. The French didn't just leave North African shores. They also stopped using Moroccan wines to "improve" their homeland wines. Thanks to Morocco's warm, consistent climate, Moroccan wines were called "medicine" wines, whose primary purpose had been to heal the lack of fla - vors—ripe flavors, that is—in French wine. Post-exodus, the 1960s atmosphere further lessened the temptation to ameliorate French wines as the cornerstones of the EU were planted. During this time, production in Morocco plummeted. Vines under acreage fell from 135,900 acres in 1956 to 32,123 acres in 1990. Today, there are 124,000 acres back in production. Morocco wasn't alone. Stretching across the Mediterranean along the "classic" regions of Western Europe, a strip of North Africa extending from Portugal to Piedmont accounted for an astonishing one-third of the world's wine production. Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria were, together, the fourth largest exporter in the world, primarily in bulk wine exported to France. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOMADIC DISTRIBUTION PHOTO COURTESY OF NOMADIC DISTRIBUTION

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