The greater part of wines produced in Algeria are red, made from Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Alicante-Bouschet, Aramon and Mourvedre. They are intensely colored with typical aromas of their different terroirs.
The white wines of Algeria require great technical skills to give individual expression to each individual grape variety: Clairette, Muscat, Merseguéra and Faranah.
And for over a century Algeria has been producing rosé wines of great quality with aromatic palettes that also reflect the terroir, in a magnificent range of colors varying from very pale grey-pink (Gris d'Aboukir) to the deepest rose pink.
Algerian vines have the particularity of being very low growing to protect themselves from the harsh Sirocco wind, and to optimize their absorption of humidity. The parcels cultivated by each ‘fellah’ (the local name for agricultural workers) are very small.
The Coteaux de Mascara are situated on the slopes of Mount Bénichougrane, 90 kilometers south east of Oran at an altitude varying from 650 to 950 meters, on alluvial limestone sand soils. The vines produce red, rosé and white wine and it is here that we produce our Koutoubia wine.
The Coteaux de Tlemcen are 170 kilometers south west of Oran in the direction of Morocco, and the vines are cultivated on mountain slopes at between 700 and 800 meters altitude. The climate is cool and dry, and the soils are sandstone, clay and limestone. Our Tlemcen wines produced here are red, rosé and white.
The Dahra appellation is a hundred or so kilometers east of Oran, between the mountains of Zaccar and the region of Mostaganem. This terroir is characterized by its sandy soils with limestone subsoils and average altitude of 300 meters. These Appellation d’Origine Garantie wines in red and rose represent our Aboukir range.
The Monts du Tessalah are in the mountains of the same name at 600 meters altitude near Sidi-bel-Abbès, in the region of Oran. These vineyards span two well-known vine growing regions: Ain-Témouchent and Sidi-Bel-Abbès. They grow in siliceous limestone soils under a continental climate and produce red and rosé wines. Here we produce our Saint-Augustin.
More about the terroirs: Seven VAOG zones (Vins d'Appellation d'Origine Garantie) were defined in 1970 in the regions of Algiers and Oran.
In 2000 the production of Algerian wine was sparse and irregular. Our task therefore consisted first of all of structuring the production, by rehabilitating the cellars and other agricultural buildings and by training the vine-growers in the different regions.
There are over 200 cellars registered in the region of Aïn Temouchent alone with a rich heritage, devoted winemakers and an incredible potential. The first step was to launch a vast renovation program for around twenty cellars to create the best conditions for winemaking.
Next came an overhaul of logistics, the creation of quality control laboratories and the establishment of two winemaking centers at Chaabat El Leham and Hassi Ghella in the region of Aïn Temouchent1. Enormous investments were undertaken to equip the cellars with cooling systems (in 2013 and 2014), and modern facilities (exchangers, grape reception…).
Every year a new program is drawn up to ensure continued improvement in production facilities and the health and safety of the personnel. In this way the cellars of the Grands Crus de l'Ouest maintain the highest quality standards.
Thanks to these multiple investments we have attained the highest quality in our wines, resulting in diverse medals and awards in international competitions.
The relationships with the fellahs is at the heart of our approach. All the oenologists in the world will tell you – there are no great wines without good grapes. We have therefore established a program of continuous training for the Algerian vine-growers to ensure the quality of the grapes that we source, across all vintages. Our objective: total control of production from the vineyard to the final delivery of the wines.
In practical terms this means a strong presence in the vineyards of our regional consultants: from Aïn Temouchent, Mostaganem and Sidi Bel Abbès.
Whatever the size of their vineyard, from the biggest to the most modest, each fellah enjoys the same consideration from us. All through the growing year we offer advice to each individual, from pruning to harvesting, the calculation of optimum crop load per vine, the conception and implementation of a phytosanitary protection program, determination of ideal harvest date, reasoned use of treatments etc.
And the results are there. The Algerian vinegrower, like all men of terroir, needs to be convinced by hard facts. Our in-depth work, begun many years ago, is now bearing fruit, and we have seen a significant decrease in the use of phytosanitary products, an improved level of overall management of the properties and increased productivity, whilst maintaining a quality production that also procures a decent living for the vinegrowers.
1) Aïn Temouchent : literally « The Jackals’ Spring »