The Carthaginian Resurgence II

by Jacky I.F. Cheong

(Continued from “The Carthaginian Resurgence” on 6 June 2014)

Whereas the first vines in modern-day Tunisia were planted by the Phoenicians during the Punic era, it was their descendants the Carthaginians who developed viticulture on a significant scale. In the second century BC, the great agriculturalist Mago of Carthage authored his celebrated treatise on agronomy, covering such an extensive array of subjects as viticulture, winemaking, forestry, apiculture, animal husbandry, cereal, fruit and vegetable production.
His works were not only translated from Punic into Greek by Cassius Dionysius and Latin by Decimus Junius Silanus, but also variously quoted by leading agricultural writers eg Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella, Quintus Gargilius Martialis, Gaius Plinius Secundus and Marcus Terentius Varro.
In the heyday of ancient Carthage, Carthaginian wines were exported to its numerous dependencies stretching from the entire Magreb coastline, as well as to Southern Spain, the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia and parts of Sicily. After the Roman conquest, Carthage became the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis, but wine production thrived and continued to be exported across the Mediterranean.
Endowed with the Carthaginian legacy, rosé – arguably the oldest style of wine – still accounts for 60% of Tunisian wine production, along with 30% red and 10% white. Bearing much similarity to those in Bordeaux, Southern Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon, red varieties in Tunisia should be familiar to most wine drinkers.
Established in 1948, ie 8 years before Tunisia became independent from France, Les Vignerons de Carthage has been the driving force behind the development of Tunisian viticulture and wine tourism.

wine-1Domaine Magon 2011
A Syrah-Merlot blend from Mornag, manually harvested, macerated for 15 days and vinified under temperature control, followed by bottle-ageing in estate cellar for 12 months. Rich garnet with cardinal-carmine rim, the open nose reveals red cherry, damson, dates and oaky vanilla. With ample acidity and generous tannins, the potent palate provides plum, prune, nutmeg and mocha. Medium-bodied at 12.5%, the gentle entry continues through a tender mid-palate, leading to a spiced finish.

Les Domaines de Carthage Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
A single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon from Mornag, manually harvested, macerated for up to 20 days and vinified under temperature control. Rich garnet with carmine-ruby rim, the fruit nose offers black cherry, dried strawberry, eucalyptus and cinnamon. With adequate acidity and firm tannins, the spiced palate delivers red cherry, damson, rosemary and allspice. Medium-full bodied at 12.5%, the supple entry transforms into a tangy mid-palate, leading to a smooth finish.

wine-3Cave La Fontaine Aux Mille Amphores Magon Majus 2008

A Syrah-Merlot blend from Mornag, manually harvested, macerated for 15 days and vinified under temperature control. Matured in French oak barrels for 12 months, the wine was bottle-aged in estate cellar for 24 months. Dark garnet with carmine-chestnut rim, the aromatic and redolent nose exudes crème de cassis, black cherry, eucalyptus, clove and sandalwood. With lively acidity and ripe tannins, the complex and fleshy palate radiates red cherry, cassis, blackberry, nutmeg and mocha. Medium-full bodied at 13%, the fragrant entry evolves into a fruit-driven mid-palate, leading to a refreshing finish.

Les Domaines de Carthage Merlot 2012

A single-varietal Merlot from Mornag, manually harvested, macerated for up to 20 days and vinified under temperature control. Dark garnet with cardinal-ruby rim, the heady nose presents prune, tobacco leaf, cedarwood and leather. With sufficient acidity and solid tannins, the savoury palate supplies plum, dried blackberry, coffea arabica and balsam. Medium-full bodied at 12.5%, the tart entry carries onto a juicy mid-palate, leading to a mellow finish.

To discover the historical treasure of Tunisian wine, contact Ms Linda Knightsbridge of Hubnet Ltd; W:; E:; T: +852 2433 9933

Jacky I.F. Cheong is a legal professional by day and columnist by night. Having spent his formative years in Britain, France, and Germany, he regularly writes about wine, fine arts, classical music, and politics in several languages.

Categories World of Bacchus