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