Though South African wine has exploded in the global market, the next major frontier of the African wine industry may be found at the north end of the continent. Morocco has the largest wine production in the Muslim world and is just beginning to reach the global market.
To get to know how Morocco has come to create a beverage that most of its citizens are religiously prohibited from drinking, we are joined by Didier and Hallie Pariente of Exotic Imports LLC. They give us a taste several varietals, we get to understand the historical foundation of the industry, and learn about how the old-world techniques have brought the most out of the terroir.
Exotic Imports was founded in 2005 by French-born entrepreneur Didier Pariente with the purpose of bringing fine Moroccan wine into the US. Didier began working on his plan in Aspen, Colorado at a restaurant called Mogador and wondered why the North African-themed restaurant served wines from Spain, but none of the wines he remembered drinking as a youth from Morocco. When the season closed, he took off for Casablanca to find out how to get Moroccan wines into America. In 2009, Colorado was the first state to get a taste of these wines from Thalvin, Domaine Ouled Thaleb at Nobu’s famed Matsuhisa Aspen. After placing the wines in some of Colorado’s finest restaurants, Didier set out to expand the distribution of Moroccan wines and moved to California. In the last two years his imported wines from Morocco have begun to sell in some of the best restaurants, wine bars and shops in California, Illinois, Texas, Nevada, Louisiana & New York.
00:01 Welcome to the Wine Down.
00:44 Introducing Didier and Hallie Pariente of Exotic Imports LLC.
02:01 Tasting the Faranah.
02:44 The foundation of Didier and Hallie in the Moroccan wine business.
04:39 From working in Aspen to cold calls in Morocco.
06:44 The export audience for Moroccan wine.
07:34 The history of Moroccan wine and the postcolonial era.
10:25 The impact of European filoxera on the Moroccan wine industry.
12:49 French farmers move in and revitalise the vineyards and federal compliance.
14:17 Bottles without vintage on the label.
15:13 The five main growing regions, aog’s and aoc’s.
16:49 Working with one producer.
17:32 Who is really drinking 90% of the country’s wine?
19:13 Generational transitions for the wine industry and the expanding role of women.
21:09 A sense of exploration for French farmers in Morocco.
21:41 Notes on the domaine Ouled Thaleb, Morocco’s oldest domaine.
24:20 Tasting the Chardonnay and the classic methods of production.
25:40 Respecting the terroir and skiing in Africa.
27:10 Price points for the wine, both here and abroad.
28:55 Backlash against wine from fundamentalists.
29:43 The Arab spring and effects for export and distribution.
32:11 Fluctuating Kosher wine markets.
33:44 Rosé in the ‘wrong’ bottle– “It’s Morocco; they can do whatever they want!”
35:58 Los Angeles support for the region and a pleasant surprise.
39:08 French importing of Moroccan wine.
39:46 “A Chardonnay from Morocco should not taste like a Chardonnay from France.”
40:55 Tasting the Syrah and the age of the vines.
45:08 The changing financial climate and luxury destinations.
46:58 Taxes on alcohol and luxury goods.
48:26 The purpose behind Exotic Imports and the changing face of Morocco.
51:56 Cheers and Goodbye!