Who? Where? The only thing about this wine that might be familiar to most folks is that it's Syrah.
While dining at Telepan the other night, I had a glass poured for me blind. Sommelier Aaron von Rock smirked after I guessed it as a 2007 Southern Rhône. Well, at least I got the vintage right. And the wine is "south"—after all, North Africa is south of France.
Zenata is the area in Morocco where the grapes were grown, Domaine des Ouleb Thaleb is the producer, and Syrocco the cuvée name. Now, while you might not look to North Africa for wine, Rhône vintner Alain Graillot did. The acknowledged leader of the Crozes-Hermitage appellation, Graillot teamed up with Morocco wine giant Thalvin (they produce 4 million bottles annually) for this joint venture aimed at export markets. Production has ramped up since the debut 2005 vintage; more than 8,000 cases were made of the current '07.
The wine is round, friendly and ripe, with a nice soft core of black cherry and fig fruit backed by very light-handed toast and tobacco notes. In this setting, it was 87 points, non-blind—just about right in line with when I reviewed it officially.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Domaine des Ouleb Thaleb Syrah Zenata Syrocco 2007 (86, $18)