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No Sauvignon in the Sahara


When one thinks of Egypt, one maybe conjures up visions of 3000 years of history nurtured by the mighty Nile , preserved in the sands of the Sahara…….. others may just think of Mohammed Al Fayed queuing up at the UK passport office again. For myself, Egypt is all about Roger Moore fighting Jaws at the Pyramids in the Spy Who loved Me. So last week I packed my safari suit, a couple of saucy innuendos, raised my right eyebrow, karate chopped my suitcase shut and went there on holiday.

Mark in holiday mode?
Mark in holiday mode?

What the brochure failed to tell me was that the Egyptians have so little confidence in their own wine that they feel they the need to charge 450% tax on imported wine. To put this in perspective for you – a bottle of Oxford Landing Sauvignon Blanc in Egypt was more expensive than Cos d’Estournel 1996 in the UK. What the brochure also omitted was that Egyptian wine really isn’t that bad. It may sound like it should be in the same peer group as an Israeli bacon sandwich or a self-deprecating Australian, but they should actually be quite proud of what they make in such challenging conditions.

They produce a fair amount, around 500,000 gallons a year, roughly the same amount as the UK. With 90% of the population Islamic and, I imagine, not a particularly enthusiastic export market you can see why imported wine is not welcome. I am not going to pretend that the wines are great, they are certainly not, but after a few thousand years of practice , the Cabernet tastes like Cabernet and the Rose wine are dry and fruity. If you are going on holiday, there is no point taking your children out of school to pay for a foreign wine, theirs are perfectly drinkable.

I drank wines from two estates:

Obelisk Cabernet Sauvignon and Rose
Shahrazade Cabernet Sauvignon Red and Rose

My advice is to drink the Obelisk Cabernet and the Shahrazade Rose.