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WSET Diploma: Unit 3: Africas > North Africa > Flashcards

Flashcards in North Africa Deck (20)
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1

Morocco

Vineyards located at an altitude over 500 metres on the Atlas Mountains and cooled by Atlantic breezes.
Appellation system exists with 14 recognised regions.
Grape varieties include Carignan, Consult and Bordeaux and Rhone varieties.
Potential for producing best quality wine in Nth Africa.

2

Tunisia

Best vineyards located on the coast near Tunis.
Recent investment in winery equipment.
Full bodied reds and sweet and dry Muscats are produced.

3

Algeria

Historically most important North African wine producer (exporting large volumes to France for blending, until the 1960s).
Vineyard area has shrunk from 400,000 ha to around 60,000.
Investment and improvement is lagging.

4

Egypt

North African country which makes small quantities of wine, about 43,000 hl/1.1 million gal a year from its 70,000 ha/173,000 acres of vineyard in 2011, which are mainly devoted to producing table grapes. The Ancient Egyptians provide us with some of the oldest depictions of winemaking techniques, however.

5

Egypt- Ancient Egypt

Remains of grapes have been found in late Predynastic sites (c.3300–3000 bc), but the vine is not part of the native flora of the country, and was probably introduced from canaan in Predynastic times, despite herodotus’ false claim (Histories 2. 77) that there were no vines in Egypt. The southern Levantine industry had matured to such a degree that by the time of Scorpion I (c.3150 bc), one of the first rulers of a united Egypt, his tomb at Abydos was stocked with some 4,500 l/1,900 gal of imported wine from southern Canaan. The wine was laced with terebinth tree resin, to which fresh fruit (grapes and figs) and a variety of herbs (including thyme and savory) had been added. Beginning around 3000 bc, the Egyptian pharaohs financed the establishment of a royal wine industry in the Nile Delta.

The best grapes were considered to come from the Nile Delta; by the New Kingdom (c.1550–1050 bc), viniculture had been introduced to the oases of the western desert and the middle Nile. Vines, irrigated, and manured with bird droppings, were grown in walled gardens, sometimes among other fruits such as olives, and trained over pergolas (see tendone).

As in Ancient greece and Ancient rome, there were two distinct winemaking operations: treading, or crushing, to yield some free-run juice, and pressing the remainder with a sack-press. When harvested, grapes were trodden by foot by men who could hang on to overhead supports, or suspended ropes. The vat was deliberately shielded from the heat, and an offering of the must was made to the goddess Renenutet. Tomb paintings illustrate wine production amply, although the precise details are not always clear. After treading, the pressing was often carried out in a special sack-press with a pole fixed in a loop at either end of what was effectively a giant jelly bag. This was then twisted by several men in opposite directions and the liquid was collected in a vessel beneath. The liquid flowing out of the sack-press is always depicted as red. In Old Kingdom times (c.2686–2181 bc) the wine was transferred to large jars, later called amphorae.

In scenes dating from the New Kingdom must flows from the trough along a small conduit into a receptacle. In the sack-press apparently only the skins would have been pressed. Probably the free-run juice and the press wine were fermented together. Depictions show only the transfer of the must from the press into amphorae. In one illustration the contents of the press are transferred to large fermentation vats, then pressed in the sack-press and transferred into amphorae.

The actual alcoholic fermentation took place in the amphorae, from which the Ancient Egyptians would then deliberately exclude air, just like many modern winemakers. The filled amphorae were covered with cloth or leather lids, smeared with Nile mud, and then sealed. Small holes to allow the continuing escape of carbon dioxide were later blocked up.

White wine is likely attested in the Scorpion I tomb, based on the yellowishness of the residue, and in some of the amphorae in the Tutankhamun tomb, based on chemical analyses. Egyptian wines were generally resinated wines from the beginning of the royal winemaking industry to the end of the Pharaonic period. Wine was also drunk for medicinal purposes, when it was sometimes flavoured with Levantine and Egyptian herbs, kyphi, a mixture of gums, resins, herbs, spices, and possibly other less pleasant ingredients such as the dungs of various animals and birds, and asses’ hair.

6

Egypt- Wine trade organization

It is clear from the seals on amphorae and from the titles of certain officials that the manufacture and delivery of wine were already organized at royal level in the earliest periods. Wine is often shown in scenes on wall paintings. Lists from the Fifth Dynasty distinguish five types of wine according to its origin. ‘Wine from Asia’ and Canaan is also mentioned, and Canaanite wine amphorae are found in the New Kingdom. Inscriptions on amphorae of that period usually indicate year, vineyard site, owner, and chief winemaker (rather more information than is given on most modern wine labels). Most but not all centres of wine production lay on the western arm of the Nile Delta.

7

Egypt- Wine drinking

Wine was drunk by gods, kings, and nobles, especially at feasts, and was rated only slightly behind beer, which was the most common beverage of ancient Egypt. Amphorae, often painted with vine leaves, are depicted on tables or resting on stands. The wine was sieved as it was poured out. Servants would fill small beakers for serving, sometimes carrying a second small jug (possibly containing water to dilute the wine, but more likely a herbal concoction). The wine was drunk from bowls or amphorae (which sometimes rested on stands). The king Akhenaten and his family are shown drinking at the royal capital Tell-el-Amarna (14th century bc). Priests received wine as part of their daily rations, likewise army officers and foreign mercenaries; but the workmen of Amarna received none, an indication of its value. By contrast, the workers who had built the pyramids received a daily allotment of two ‘bottles’ or about 4–5 l/1-1.3 gal of beer.

8

Egypt- Religion and Wine

Wine is said to be the drink of gods, and also of the dead (along with beer and milk). Thus it was important in cult worship and is frequently mentioned in lists of offerings, sometimes several sorts together. It was frequently offered as nourishment to deities by the king or private persons, also symbolizing purification. libations of wine and water were made at temples and tombs throughout the country.

The goddess Hathor, ‘the mistress of drunkenness’, was the Egyptian equivalent of the Sumerian beer goddess, Ninkasi. She was closely associated with a lesser goddess ‘who makes beer’, Menqet. One festival to honour Hathor, appropriately designated the ‘the Drunkenness of Hathor’, at her temple in Dendera, recalled the story of how the goddess had gone on a rampage to destroy a rebellious humanity in her form as the lioness goddess, Sekhmet. Just in time, Re diverted her from her mission by filling the inundated fields with ‘red beer’, which Hathor interpreted as a sign that she had accomplished her task. She then over-indulged, and forgot to carry out the devastation of mankind. The yearly celebration at Dendera coincided with the inundation of the Nile during the summer, when reddish iron-rich soils were washed down from the Atbara River in Sudan, giving the waters the appearance of ‘red beer’. By drinking an alcoholic beverage at the festival—both wine and beer—and celebrating with music and dance, humanity shared in Hathor’s transformation into her more benign form as the feline Bastet.

Classical authors identified Osiris as the benefactor who bestowed wine on mankind, comparing him in this respect to the Greek god dionysus. The grape certainly became a symbol of the dying and rising god. Vines depicted in tomb paintings symbolized the deceased’s hope for resurrection. Other texts refer to wine as the perspiration of Re or as the eyes of the god Horus. His pupils are said to be grapes through which wine flows. In the later periods the term ‘Green Eye of Horus’ was used to refer to wine.

9

Egypt- Modern Wine Production

Brewers Heineken own the leading and thoroughly modern Egyptian wine producer Gianaclis, about 75 km/47 miles from Alexandria, and in 2014 there were two others. sultana and a wide range of international varieties are grown, on trellises, mainly in the north of the country, although vine age is low and the growing season is too short for Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and members of the Pinot family. Satellite technology is harnessed to apply drip irrigation with precision. Grapes are picked between late June and early August and are generally chilled before transport to sophisticated modern wineries equipped with stainless steel. French oak barriques are used for some top wines but most are drunk young.

10

Ethiopia

In north-east africa can produce quite respectable red wine and some white from vines grown at relatively high elevations. The Awash winery in Addis Ababa, based on vineyards established by the Italian troops who occupied part of the country from 1936 to 1941, has been joined by a castel project with 162 ha/400 acres of vines planted between 2007 and 2009 near Ziway, 160 km/100 miles south of the capital. It sells international varietals under the brand names Rift Valley and Acacia from vineyards surrounded by a wide trench designed to deter pythons, hippopotamuses, and hyenas.

11

Kenya

African country virtually on the equator, with a very limited production of wines, and some packaging of imports from South Africa. Since the mid 1980s, vinifera vines have been cultivated and have been harvested every eight months, providing three vintages every two years, chiefly from vineyards around Lake Naivasha (see tropical viticulture). Rainy seasons are March to May and October to December and some producers may revert to one growing season from June to September. The only commercial wine producer in 2014 was Rift Valley Winery, whose 20 ha/50 acres of vineyards are at elevations over 1900 m/6,235 ft. A locally grown Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin Blanc blend and rosé are sold under the Leleshwa brand. A refugee from the Médoc has planted a small vineyard in Laikipia.

12

Tanzania

Although less than eight degrees south of the equator, Tanzania produces wine from two vintages a year (see tropical viticulture). international varieties are planted, notably around the city of Dodoma. German settlers planted vines just south of Mount Kilimanjaro in the 1930s and an ambitious vine nursery was established by another German in the 1980s.

13

Aramon

Is now, happily, a remnant of French viticultural history, a vine variety that burgeoned throughout the languedoc in the second half of the 19th century (the many who made their fortunes from wine around Béziers then were known by some as the Aramonie) and was displaced as France’s most popular only in the 1960s by carignan. For decades, particularly after the development of railway links with the populous north of France, Aramon vines were encouraged to spew forth light, everyday wine-for-the-workers that was with good reason called petit rouge.

Aramon’s great attribute, apart from its prodigious productivity of up to 400 hl/ha (22.8 tons/acre), was its resistance to powdery mildew, the scourge of what were France’s established wine regions in the mid 19th century. The variety was taken up with great enthusiasm and rapidly spread over terrain previously considered too flat and fertile for viticulture. galet notes that its effects were particularly noticeable in the Hérault, where, between 1849 and 1869, the land under vine more than doubled, to 214,000 ha/528,800 acres.

Unless planted on poor soils and pruned extremely severely, Aramon produces some of the lightest red wine that could be considered red, notably low in alcohol, extract, and character. To render the rouge sufficiently rouge for the French consumer, Aramon had invariably to be bolstered by such red-fleshed grapes as one of the teinturiers, most often alicante bouschet. This gave Aramon a grave disadvantage compared with the deep, alcoholic reds of North Africa, and its popularity began to decline in the mid 20th century, a trend exacerbated by its toll from the 1956 and 1963 frosts. Aramon suffers from the twin disadvantages of budding early and ripening late and is therefore limited to hotter wine regions.

The total French area planted with Aramon shrank from 34,700 ha/85,700 acres in 1988 to 2,126 ha/5,251 acres in 2010.

Aramon Gris and Aramon Blanc, lighter-berried mutations, can still (just) be found, particularly in the Hérault.

14

Castel

France’s biggest wine company, was founded in Bordeaux by nine Castel brothers and sisters in 1949 and is still family-owned. As well as owning dozens of Bordeaux châteaux and selling prodigious quantities of wine, Castel is an important distributor of beer and water in France and North Africa. Castel acquired barton & Guestier, the Bordeaux négociant, and bought the Nicolas retail chain in 1988, their chief rival Société des Vins de France in 1992, Domaines Virginie in the Languedoc in 1999, the British retail chain Oddbins in 2002 (which it subsequently sold off), and the Burgundy négociant Patriarche in 2011. It is also involved in a joint venture for the production of Chinese wine and distribution ofFrench wines in china with changyu and, together with suntory of Japan, owns a Bordeaux négociant and Chx Beaumont and Beychevelle.

15

Table Grapes

The common term for those grapes specially grown to be eaten as fresh fruit. Of the grapes grown worldwide, table grapes represent the third most frequent use, following wine and dried grapes. About 21 million tonnes are grown each year and the trend is upwards. The most important producing country is China, followed at quite some distance by Turkey, India, Iran, Italy, and Egypt. The fruit is consumed primarily within the producing country because it is relatively low in value and perishable. However, with refrigeration the opportunities for export are increasing and Chile, for example, has developed a substantial export trade in table grapes over the last four decades. Table grapes are used widely by the emerging wine industries of asia.

The varieties of grapes for fresh consumption are usually specialized and different from those for wine and drying. They should taste good, have a reasonably consistent berry size, bright colour, firm flesh texture, not too many seeds, and skins tough enough to withstand storage and transport. Recently developed seedless varieties are increasingly popular. Some important table grape varieties are Barlinka, Calmeria, cardinal, chasselas, Dattier, Emperor, Flame Seedless, Gros Vert, Italia, muscat of alexandria, muscat of hamburg, Perlette, Ruby Seedless, Alphonse Lavallée (Ribier), and sultana (or Thompson Seedless).

Table grapes are typically grown in warm to hot regions to encourage early maturity and freedom from any rot brought on by rain. Low night temperatures assist the colour development of some varieties, while both very high and very low day temperatures may inhibit colour development. Many of the table grape regions of the world are inland desert areas.

There are some important differences between table grape and wine grape vineyard management. For table grapes, the aim is generally to produce maximum berry size, and so irrigation and fertilizers are used more liberally than for wine grapes. Sloping and overhead trellis systems such as the pergola and tendone are common, where the shoots and leaves form a canopy over the fruit, avoiding excessive and direct sun exposure (see sunburn).

Because they are worth more than most wine grapes (although see Ch d’yquem, montrachet, and domaine de la romanée-conti), table grapes typically require more manual vineyard work. This can include shoot thinning, crop thinning, and sometimes berry thinning. These practices lead to larger berries which ripen early. growth regulators are also commonly used to thin flowers, but more particularly to increase berry size of seedless varieties such as Sultana. cincturing or girdling can also be used to hasten ripening.

Table grapes are harvested earlier than wine grapes as a lower sugar level and higher acidity make them taste more refreshing, in the range of 15 to 18 °brix (whereas wine grapes would preferably be harvested for dry wines at about 22 °Brix).

Some table grape varieties can be kept in cool stores for up to 20 weeks, although eight to 12 weeks is more common. Long storage life is promoted by low temperatures such as −1 °C (at which the sugar content stops them freezing), a relative humidity of about 96%, and sulfur dioxide fumigation for mould control.

16

Temperature Control

During winemaking is crucially important, as outlined in temperature. Although it has been widely and systematically practised only since the 1960s and 1970s, its efficacy was appreciated as long ago as Roman times (see die). See refrigeration for details of how wine may be cooled at various points in its life. In cool wine regions or particularly cool years, a fermentation vessel may need to be heated to encourage alcoholic fermentation, most easily by circulating warm water in equipment also designed to carry cooling cold water or, in smaller cellars, simply by closing doors and installing a heater or two. Some form of heating may also be required to encourage malolactic conversion.

17

Autovinification

Method of vinification designed to extract maximum colour from red grapes and used primarily in the production of red port. Autovinification, a process involving automatic pumping over, was developed in algeria in the 1960s, where it was known as the Ducellier system. Faced with a shortage of labour in the 1960s, port producers were forced to abandon the traditional practice of treading grapes by foot in lagares. Many isolated quintas had no electricity and so shippers built central wineries. The power supply was erratic and too weak for sophisticated pumps or presses so the shippers installed autovinification tanks in order to extract sufficient colour and tannins in the short fermentation period prior to fortification. Autovinification is a self-perpetuating process induced by the build-up of pressure; no external power source is needed.

Crushed and partially destemmed grapes are pumped into specially constructed autovinification vats (see diagram overleaf) which are filled to within about 75 cm (29 in) of the top. The vat is closed and the autovinification unit (a) is screwed into place. As the fermentation begins, carbon dioxide is given off and pressure builds up inside the vat. This drives the fermenting must up an escape valve (b) which spills out into an open reservoir (1) on top of the vat. Eventually the pressure will also force the water out of a second valve (c) into a smaller, separate reservoir (2). When the water has been expelled, the carbon dioxide that has built up in the vat escapes with explosive force through valve (c). The fermenting must in reservoir (1) falls back into the vat down the central autovinification unit (a), spraying the floating cap of grape skins, so extracting colour and tannin. At the same moment, the water in reservoir (2) returns to valve (c), again sealing in the carbon dioxide, and the process repeats itself. The cycle continues until the winemaker judges that sufficient grape sugar has been fermented to alcohol, and sufficient colour has been extracted, at which time the wine is run off and fortified just as described in port, winemaking.

At the start of fermentation, when a small amount of carbon dioxide is given off, the autovinification cycle is slow. But when the fermentation is in full swing, the pressure build-up is such that the cycle takes only 10–15 minutes to complete.

Originally autovinification vats were built from concrete and lined with resin-painted concrete. However, significant modifications have accompanied improvements in both winemaking technology and the power supply to the douro valley, where port is produced. Modern autovinification tanks are made from stainless steel and are equipped with refrigeration units to prevent the must from overheating. Some shippers have resorted to traditional pumping over, or remontage, although this generally provides insufficient extraction for better-quality port. Other shippers have successfully combined pumping over with autovinification, thereby giving the winemaker greater control over port fermentation than ever before, although lagares are preferred by many for top-quality ports.

18

Alicante Bouschet

Often known simply as Alicante and sometimes as Alicante Henri Bouschet, is the most widely planted of France’s red-fleshed teinturier grape varieties. It was widely planted for much of the 20th century but total French plantings had declined to 3,699 ha/9,136 acres by 2011, mainly in the Languedoc-Roussillon.

It was bred between 1865 and 1885 by Henri bouschet from his father’s crossing of Petit Bouschet with the popular Grenache, then often known as Alicante, and was an immediate success. Thanks to its deep red flesh, the wine it produced was about 15 times as red as that of the productive and rapidly spreading aramon.

Alicante Bouschet also played a major role in late-19th and early-20th-century viticulture as parent of a host of other Teinturiers, the products almost exclusively of crossings with non-vinifera varieties. In the second half of the 20th century it profited from its status as the sole Teinturier to be a Vitis vinifera, and is therefore officially sanctioned by the French authorities.

Outside France it is most widely cultivated in Spain, where it is also known as Garnacha Tintorera and where plantings totalled 18,950 ha/46,806 acres in 2011. It is particularly common in Galicia and Castilla-La Mancha. The total area planted in Portugal is much smaller but it can make wines as celebrated as Mouchão in the Alentejo.

Alicante is widely grown around the world but nowhere else in any great quantity.

19

Tunisia

North African country which was once an important wine producer. Viticulture was probably introduced when the Phoenicians established the city of carthage on the coast and was certainly developed during the Roman occupation. The Phoenician agronomist mago recorded contemporary vine-growing and winemaking practices in his Treatise of Agronomy.

French occupation until 1956 led to vineyard development on a vast scale, but independence was followed by a decline in local expertise. The total vineyard area devoted to wine production fell from 17,500 ha/43,240 acres in 2000 to 9,000 ha in 2013 when 238,000 hl/6.3 million gal of wine were made in the country’s 16 wineries, about 60% of it rosé and only 30% red. About 40% of all wine is classed as aoc. Italians, Swiss, Germans, and Austrians have all invested in the Tunisian wine industry since the late 20th century, bringing with them winemaking and viticultural expertise, and an overall improvement in wine quality.

Annual rainfall is between 250 mm/10 in and 500 mm/20 in, with the great majority of precipitation in mid autumn. The average annual temperature is 20 °C/68 ºF. The most important varieties traditionally planted included Carignan, Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Syrah, and Merlot for reds and Muscat of Alexandria, Chardonnay, and Pedro Ximenez for whites. More recently Petit Verdot, Touriga Nacional, and Marselan have been planted for reds and rosés with the likes of Viognier, Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc, and Grenache Blanc for whites. The vast majority of wine production is centred in and around the Cape Bon region in the north east of the country. Most Tunisian wine is drunk by tourists.

20

Morocco

With its high mountains and cooling Atlantic influence, has arguably the greatest potential for producing good-quality wine in North Africa. Viticulture, which existed in the Roman era, was probably introduced by Phoenician settlers. But it was the French colonists who brought large-scale wine production so that Morocco played a significant part in the world’s wine trade in the 1950s and 1960s, although it never produced as much sheer quantity as neighbouring algeria. At independence in 1956, Morocco had 55,000 ha/135,850 acres of carefully husbanded vineyard. With the departing French colonists went winemaking expertise, capital, and a large proportion of domestic consumption. This was compounded in 1967 by new EEC (now eu) quotas which literally decimated Morocco’s exports. Frozen out of European markets and faced with stiff competition from other over-producing Mediterranean countries, most producers grubbed up their vineyards and replaced them with cereal crops. Between 1973 and 1984, the great majority of vineyards were taken over by the state, which by 1984 had also established a firm grip on the sale of wine, including grape price-fixing regardless of quality.

By the early 1990s, only about 13,000 ha of the nation’s 40,000 ha of vines were planted with wine vines, over half of them, many virused, were 30 years old or more and therefore economically unproductive. Average yields were well under 30 hl/ha (1.7 tons/acre). The state had a virtual monopoly of the domestic market. The only independent producer to prosper in this post-colonial climate was Brahim Zniber, head of North African wine giant Les Celliers de Meknès and also owner of its main domestic competitor, Thalvin-Ebertec (since 2001), as well as of Sincobar, so that by the mid 2000s the Sniber group had a 90% share of the domestic market. Zniber, who bought his first vineyards from departing French producers in the 1950s and started bottling wines in 1976, encouraged the introduction of a controlled appellation system and pioneered varietal wines.

In a bid to revive Morocco’s rural economy, the late King Hassan II successfully attracted foreign investment in viticulture during the 1990s. Several large Bordeaux groups, including castel, William Pitters, and Taillan, took up the offer of long leases on prime vineyard land from the state holding company SODEA. This policy of seeking inward investment, continued by King Mohammed VI, had a galvanizing effect on the industry from the mid 1990s. Thousands of hectares have been replanted with better quality grape varieties by foreign investors, Celliers de Meknès, and a few smaller entrepreneurs so that vineyards totalled 48,000 ha and there were eight significant wine producers by 2011. State-of-the-art bottling and vinification plants have been built by Celliers de Meknès and Castel, with the refrigeration necessary for temperature control and oak barrels for maturation of the likes of lauded red Château Roslane. Well over 75% of Moroccan wine is red. Historically the uninspiring Carignan dominated the Moroccan vignoble although there was a later wave of planting Cinsaut (still the country’s most planted variety), which can produce agreeable vin gris. With rosé, this pale orangey-pink wine accounts for almost 20% of total wine production. Alicante and Grenache were once important but Castel have energetically replanted their vineyards with international varieties. Whites, which represent a very small proportion of total production, are made from the likes of Clairette and Muscat. They have tended to produce heavy, often musty, non-aromatic white wines although the Roussanne of Domaine Val d’Argan in splendid isolation on the southern coast near Essouira is a laudable exception.

Morocco’s appellation system, closely modelled on the French appellation contrôlée, is called Appellation d’Origine Garantie. AOG rules delimit the geographical area of production and set maximum yields but do not dictate grape varieties. The system has yet to achieve any real significance in terms of guaranteeing quality—Thalavin-Evertec make some of the country’s best wines and do not even use it—but the following are AOG zones, mostly in the cooler, fertile regions of the north. Negotiations with the eu were ongoing in 2014.

The East: Beni Sadden, Berkane, Angad

Meknès/Fès region: Guerrouane, Beni M’tir, Saiss, Zerhoune

The Northern Plain: Gharb

Rabat/Casablanca region: Chellah, Zemmour, Zaër, Zenatta, Sahel

El-Jadida region: Doukkala

The Meknès region of the Middle Atlas, where vines are planted at an elevation of around 600 m/1,968 ft, and Berkane (once famous for its Muscat vin doux naturel) have traditionally enjoyed the finest reputation but there are vast new plantings around Benslimane and Beni Mellal. Some of the best modern wines come from grapes grown in the Zaër highlands, closer to the capital Rabat. Thanks to the Atlantic influence, good wines are also produced further south along the coast: in the Doukkala, for instance, where Castel’s Boulaouane domaine produces the wine for France’s leading foreign wine brand. Castel concentrate on the French market and own the Sidi Brahim red-wine brand.

Although Morocco is often described as having a semi-arid mediterranean climate, the Atlas Mountains and Atlantic Ocean combine to create cool mesoclimates in the north. Nevertheless, summer temperatures can reach 35–38 °C/95-100 °F; rainfall between May and October is very low; and drought cycles and sunburn are worsening. Another problem can be the strength of the prevailing winds from the Atlantic of up to 65 km/40 miles per hour. Vine trellising and careful row orientation have become more common, and all main producers now practice drip irrigation.

With a current annual output of just 333,000 hl/8.8 million gal, Morocco’s wine production remains modest. Although huge quantities of very poor wine are still produced, the wine industry is now dominated by private companies, all of which make consistently palatable—if, as yet, unexceptional—wines. The local market is buoyed by strong demand from the tourist industry and the country’s affluent urban elite, as well as by the high duties on imported wines. Moroccan law prohibits the sale of alcohol to Muslims, but in practice the law is seldom if ever applied. Alcohol is freely available in all the main cities outside the holy month of Ramadan. Not everyone approves of this permissive approach—least of all Morocco’s growing islamist movement, which seeks to ban or limit alcohol consumption.

See also corks, of which Morocco is a relatively important producer.