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Wines of the Mideast

MAIN Arrow to Wine Directory Wine Arrow to Wines of Africa Africa Arrow to Wines & Wineries of Northern AfricaThe Maghreb

maghreb wine region in north africaThe Maghreb contains three countries in North Africa -- Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia -- with the Atlas Mountains providing a divider between the Mediterranean coastlines and the Sahara Desert.

The wines produced by these three countries have a long rich history with early records dating wine making back 2000 years.

Mascara wine from Algeria and other varieties from the region have been winning international awards (ever since the 1859 Fall Exposition in Paris, in fact), but have had little success breaking into modern global markets.

The poorer quality of much of the modern wine output is mainly due to many economic, religious, and political factors. Nonetheless, the natural climate and the influence of French winemakers have created a few wines that today can compete with even some of the best labels in Europe.

Through their dominance of the region for many years, France's influence on winemaking is still felt strongly throughout these countries with wines made from typical French grapes such as Merlot, Chardonnay, Grenache, Syrah and other varieties.

With as much land under vine as the countries of Germany and South Africa, Algeria is a major force in the Magreb region with more than 70 wineries in seven distinct wine zones located along the sunny, Mediterranean coast. These include the Coteaux de Tlemcen, Monts du Tessalah, Coteaux de Mascara, Dahra hills, Coteaux du Zaccar, Médéa, and Aïn Bessem Bouria.

In Tunisia, most vineyards can be found in around the Cap Bon peninsula, a major tourism hub. A majority of production is dedicated to popular Tunisian red wines and roses grown within seven official appelations including Grand Cru Mornag, Mornag, Coteau de Tébourba, Sidi Salem, Kélibia, Thibar, and Côteaux d'Utique.

In Morocco, where full-bodied red wine production was at its height during French colonization is lately experiencing a winemaking renaissance thanks to foreign (mostly French) investment. Today, the country is divided into five Morrocan wine growing regions including Eastern Morroco, Fez and Meknes (the country's wine capital), the Northern Plain, around Rabat and Casablanca, and the El-Jadida Region.

Meanwhile, local governments are finally beginning to support the traditional wine industry, and the results are looking promising. Even a few of the world's wine experts are starting to differentiate and get past some of the stereotypes.

Will wines from the region once again make their mark in international competitions? As they say around the winery, time will tell ....

More information about the wines of Morocco, Algeria & Tunisia:


Moroccan wine
- Check out this extensive Wikipedia overview for more information on its history, modern wine regions and production, with related referencesa and resources.

Algerian Wine - Specializing in Algerian wine, this site details the best wines from the regions and a very nicely done history of wine production in Algeria from the Medes and Persians through modern times.

Tunisia and Tunisan Wines - Here's more information on the climate and geograpy, grape varietals and wine styles produced.

North Africa Wine Regions - e-wine-planet does a good job of describing the facts about wine production and growing areas in Northern Africa, despite the obvious bias against the wines of the region. Apparently, the writer has never tasted a good sample of Coteaux de Mascara.

 

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