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lunedì 1 ottobre 2012

Marrakech to the Sahara and a taste of Moroccan wine

Yesterday, I returned from a two day trip (7 hour drive each way) into the Moroccan Sahara Desert.  I left from Marrakech with a group of seven others and when we arrived built a fire and camped out in the sand dunes underneath a full moon.  For my last day in Marrakech I visited the botanical gardens and made a stop into the wine shop aka the supermarket, the only place selling alcohol in most of the country.

 Stopping into the town of Ait Ben Haddou, famous for film settings 
for movies such as Indiana Jones and Gladiator.

On the road...

 Another view...

Long shutter self portrait in the Sahara.  

 Here I'm about to take off for a sunrise camel ride from Zagora, Morocco after a fine night of camping.

 A lot of this trip has been spent at the fruit stands.  In particular the ones selling this exotic thorned fruit called Ficus Indica which grows in Mexico, Africa and some parts of Europe.  Fico d'India in Italian and in English I tend to refer to it as an Indian fig. They are the fruit of a certain cactus of the same name and possibly native to Mexico.

Stopping at one of the many Marrakech Indian fig vendors for only 5 cents a pop. 
 These babies have a really soft ripe texture but with hard little seeds that are 
easy to swallow and man are they addicting.

Domaine du Val D'argan El Mogador Rose' visiting the botanical gardens in Marrakech.

Popped this bottle in the hotel by the pool tonight and it was actually quite fantastic.  We drank a red last night from the Guerrouane in the Meknès region which was quite rubbish, but this rose' here is definitely a contender.  I believe this wine is coming from mainly Muscat Noir grapes (13% alc.), and drinks similarly to a refreshing Provence rose' with a little bit of a herbaceous quality and a soft ashy, almost volcanic note that reminded me of a couple of Etna Rosato's I have had.

There are five wine growing regions in Morocco with 14 of them having AOG status.  This wine here lies in the south and outside of the five regions and Domaine du Val D'argan is the only winery located here (just 30 KM south of Essaouira, a lovely Moroccan beach town also famous for its seafood), with a production a little over 100,000 bottles a year.

Heres to discovering new wines in new places, especially in this case where the drinking culture is almost non existent.

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