The Rise of the Ouled Thaleb Moroccan Wines

Guests at the Moroccan wine dinner
Guests at the Moroccan wine dinner

Dinner at the Whole Foods Market

by André Gayot


That a Moslem nation grows vine and makes wine with its grapes is a no-brainer established fact for a long time. Less expected is that its nationals — along with tourists though — drink it, as their religion prohibits the consumption of alcohol. Still, 37 million out of the 40 million bottles made annually by Morocco, the largest producer in the Arab world, are consumed domestically. Vine always existed in Morocco as reflected in the presence of an indigenous varietal, the Faranah, and in the libations of the Romans in Volubilis. The expansion of the viticulture was achieved in the 19th and 20th centuries by the French colons who brought in their techniques and methods, as well as new breeds (Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault).


Volume more than quality was sought. High in alcohol content, the strong Moroccan wine was blended with the weaker wines of Languedoc. When the French left in the middle of the 20th century, some wise Moroccans conserved their installations and vineyards in good state. They continued the exploitation oriented toward the French market but with a higher quality for a life of their own, since the blending of wines of different origins was banned by the European Union.


Today, under the guidance of energetic Moroccan visionary entrepreneur Brahim Zibner, encouraged by King Mohammed VI, the Moroccan wine world is in full swing taking advantage of its climatic cooling ocean breeze and soil with sandy gravel conditions. With the help of famous French vintners such as Bernard Magret from Bordeaux and Alain Graillot from the Rhone Valley, varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay have been acclimated thanks to their heat resistance bringing an additional finesse and “rondeur.”  


Moroccan wine mogul Zibner owns and runs with winemaker Stephane Marriot the Domaine Ouled Thaleb, which was founded in 1923 by a Belgian company. The vineyard is located 10 miles north of Casablanca and 15 miles from the ocean, and showcases a full range of red, white and rosé to add to the world competition of quality exotic wines. After New York, they are making their way to the West Coast. They encompass: The full body Moroccan Rosé (Syrah, Grenache Cinsault); the Moroccan White Blend (Native Farah, Clairette), which is floral, aromatic and grassy; The Moroccan Red Blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache), offering plum, cherry, spices and a good finish; The Ouled Taleb Sauvignon Blanc (100% Sauvignon Blanc), which has acidity and exotic fruits; and the top-of-the-line The Ouled Thaleb Medaillon (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah), featuring cherry, black currant and soft tannins.


They sell in the range of $15-20 at Whole Foods, where they could be enjoyed during a wine tasting dinner prepared by corporate chef Derek Harrison.


Related Content:


Morocco Travel Guide


Wines of Morocco


Nomadic Distribution official website


Moroccan National Tourist Office official website

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