NGW: Altos de la Hoya Finca Hoya de Santa Ana Olivares Jumilla 2010   6 comments

Arriving in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, a city known more in its official capacity as the seat of government, than as a tourist stop, ID and I had a couple of days there in transit to what we thought would be more interesting parts of the country.  

In search of a restaurant that we had read about, she and I set out from our hotel into the early Moroccan evening.  The sun had not yet set and we found ourselves hopelessly lost as the evening prayers were sung out by the muezzins across the city.  An elderly man in his late sixties approached us.  Wearing westernized clothing– a dress shirt and grey slacks– our defenses were down, we chatted with him.  He claimed to be a now-retired Diplomat.  We were in Rabat, so that seemed plausible.

We looked lost, he remarked.  We were.

As though we could use some assistance.  We could.

He did not know where this particular restaurant was.  Of course not.

But his son surely would.  Naturally. 

Would we follow him back to his flat where his son would help us?  Hmmm. 

Moroccans are always looking for ways to help foreigners.  Whether is was extending dinner invitations that never materialized or guiding us to a brother-in-law who sold Berber carpets.  They give the impression that they are a helpful lot.  It is not from lack of sincerity– rather it is in their nature to provide assistance and guidance.

In the mood for a little adventure and willing to be guided by that adventuresome sense, if not common sense, we assented.  He led us back to his neighborhood.  As he took us further away from the more public avenues of the city, ID and I glanced at each other.  Not sure if we should continue, but not turning heel, she slipped her hand into mine, our fingers entwined, she gave my hand a slight squeeze.  “What do you think?”, she seemed to be asking.  Taking a deep breath, I exhaled and shrugged.  We went with our instincts and continued to follow.

Into a cul-de-sac of apartment buildings he led us.  But his son was nowhere to be found.  Perhaps the boy was up in the flat– he suggested.  Darkened windows all around, no local residents milling about, we still had a chance to turn tail.  Yet our feet pushed forward toward his residence. 

On the left side of the dead end stood the apartment building.  The sun was fading from the sky and an uneasy dusk was settling in around us.  We entered the narrow lobby and were immediately engulfed in total darkness.  A sense of heightened suspicion began to emerge.  In for a penny, in for a pound, we continued on. 

Why do we trust this man we had met a mere ten minutes before?  ID looked at me and I gave the old I’m-not-sure-what-is-going-to-happen- to-us-raised-eyebrow.  Should we be starting to panic?

Up the darkened stairwell we followed. Climbing the first flight and then onto the second flight we continued– each step more difficult than the one before.  Yet our bodies were now determined to see this to the end, come what may, even if our minds were not exactly on board.  Our little procession of three moving deeper into the blacked out void.

At the top of the second landing, a dark wooden door appeared in sculptural relief against the onyx-colored background.  He approached and knocked.  What happened next surprised us. 

If I had to do this all over again today, there is no way I would ever let myself get into this situation.  What the hell were we thinking– entrusting some guy we had just met in a foreign country that we were just visiting for a few days.  Following him away from the more populated pedestrian byways.  I stopped believing his story.  We are in trouble, I am thinking.  What could be lurking behind that door?  As my eyes strained to adjust to the darkness, I could see there was an amber glow coming from the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.

Faint footsteps becoming louder approached from the other side of the entry.  I could see the shadowy silhouettes of two feet standing on the other side of the door.  Adrenaline pumping into my brain, my heart rate higher than I would like.  The unnerving mechanical clacking of locks, dead-bolts and security chains being undone there in the ebony air where we could barely discern each others’ features.  I am now thinking that we may have to fight our way out of this situation.  The door swung open and yellow rays of incandescent light flooded the landing where we stood. 

The diplomat’s wife stood in the entryway, angelic she was, with a welcoming smile and radiant beams of golden light exploding around the edges of her body.  At least that is the way I remember her. 

We exhaled.

Bidding us in, we were invited to make ourselves comfortable in their Moroccan living room with yellow silk cushions on the furnishings.  She laid out a spread of sweet mint tea steaming in traditional Moroccan green tea glasses.  And  then she brought out some incredible traditional Moroccan sweets– the kind we had seen in the fanciest bakeries throughout the country.  One senses this was not the first time the Mr. Diplomat had pulled this stunt dragging in stray westerners. 

I can’t recall the conversation we had that day, but it was a kind of exchange of resumes.  What he had done, where he had been.  Who we were, what we do and where we were going.  All of this whilst sitting in the Diplomats’ living room on a beautiful golden-yellow sectional sofa done in traditional Moroccan style nibbling on sweet pastry.

Leaving the apartment that night he escorted us out.  His son back from wherever, then took on the task of getting us to our destination.

We never did find that restaurant that night—it had been shuttered and no longer existed.  I think we found another local place to have our dinner, or perhaps we went without dinner, having been fortified by mint tea and Moroccan sweets. 

The history of Morocco is intertwined with those of France and Spain.  Tonight’s varietal is known as Mouvedre in France where in the Rhone it is often blended with Grenache (Garnacha) and Syrah– the GSM blend.  However its origins are Spanish where it is known as Monastrell or Mataro.  Getting onto Spain, here is a well-priced Monastrell from Jumilla in southeastern Spain.

Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya 2010Altos de la Hoya Finca Hoya de Santa Ana Olivares Jumilla 2010 ($8).  Quite faint aromas and red raspberries in the mouth.  This Monastrell, is characteristic of others I have tasted from this region.  With an easygoing fruity acidity, you could do much worse.  It delivers good QPR at this price.  Rated **

The little guy in the photo at the top of this page doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  No-Guilt Wednesday (NGW) is not about compromising on quality.  It’s all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank ($15 or less), eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.

Posted July 26, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

6 responses to “NGW: Altos de la Hoya Finca Hoya de Santa Ana Olivares Jumilla 2010

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  1. I can almost smell and taste the sweet mint tea …refreshing 🙂

  2. Great post, as always…jealous of a trip to Morocco…

    • Awww shucks, SP. I really appreciate your following me.

      BTW, I have been reading about your trip to Long Island recently and am jealous, even though it is within easy driving distance of my house in Southwestern Connecticut. I will need to get a list of must visit places from you.

      As for North Africa, as Jackson Browne once sang,

      “Now you say ‘morocco’ and that makes me smile
      I haven’t seen morocco in a long, long while
      The dreams are rolling down across the places in my mind
      And I’ve just had a taste of something fine.”

      Everyone should get there at least once in their lives.

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