Massandra Winery (Ksenia for The Editor)

CRIMEA – The imperial court’s winery is now open to visitors. On a mandatory Russian-language tour (leaving every two hours from 11am to 7pm), you get to see the tsar’s wine cellars, which contain over a million dust-covered bottles, including a 1775 Spanish Jerez de la Frontera claimed to be the oldest preserved wine in the world.

It was also the official supplier of fine wines to the royal family whilst they were on vacation at their summer palace in Livadia. Many of the sweet fortified wines from the Massandra Collection are exceptionally rare and incredibly long-lived, with most only reaching maturity at around 50 to 60 years of age. Cabernet Sauvignon White Port is a unique wine that was produced up until 1951.

Massandra Winery is the second winery that we visited within Crimea and even not as good as the Inkerman winery, still, is one place you have to visit. The tip of the iceberg as the tour guide called the outer building, lies over one hundred and fifty meter below space , filled with wine bottles and barrels.

Impressive and stunning to see all those wine bottles stacked bellow. The guide gave us information about everything, (in Russian), and it was very interesting. There is also, within the tour, a wine tasting part that i didn’t take because of driving. There is a shop, within the winery, that you can buy wine by bottle and even cold, by the litter.

World of Wine said that Massandra Winery is the third most famous brand in Russia, after the Lada car and Borjomi mineral water, yet beyond the ex-Soviet states only the most serious wine collectors would recognize Massandra.

The sweet fortified wine has a distinguished heritage closely intertwined with Eastern Europe’s turbulent political history, and an equally remarkable evolution in bottle, reaching ideal drinking maturity after 40 to 50 years.

Ksenia for The Editor

The Massandra Collection refers to the very top selection of wines made at the winery each year and accounts for less than 1 percent of it annual production. It also contains wines from the Tsar’s collection dating back to 1775, such as the notorious 1775 Jerez de la Frontera that Putin drank with Berlusconi while touring the cellar.

In March 2018, Fine and Rare hosted a special tasting from the Massandra Collection at the Groucho Club in London. Tim Littler purchased the wines in the tasting directly from Massandra in two separate batches, while he operated his wine and travel company, GW Travel Ltd, in the early 1990s.

For the rare wines, unfortunately very little accurate technical information is available on the wines. The grapes are not late picked and there is no botrytis—in fact they are picked relatively early, retaining very high acidity levels and natural sugar. The wine ferments to 2.5% ABV before being fortified, thereby preserving the residual sugar and the high malic acid. The alcohol level is usually 16%, and there are no available records on residual sugar levels.

Jancis Robinson said With more than three kilometres of tunnels excavated by Georgian miners, it was designed in the 1890s to make and age wines for the nearby palaces where the Russian court spent their summers. Stalin also clearly valued the contents of the Massandra cellars, which included treasures from all over the world. He had them shipped off to the Tblisi Number 1 winery lest they fall into Nazi hands, and shipped them back again straight after the end of the Second World War.

In September 1941, the wine being prepared for evacuation. They let the wine in bulk run off into the sea, turning it red for miles around.

Massandra Collection wines are supposed to reach maturity at 45 to 60 years, and he says he always decants them a day or two before serving. And also the taste will fine even you keep it in the fridge for 11 months.

THE PRICE OF CRIMEAN HISTORY

These are the duty-paid, VAT-free prices per bottle quoted by Fine+Rare Wines for the seven Massandra Collection wines I tasted last month and described in Doing business in Crimea, although only the 1949 and 1964 are among the 16 currently listed on their website. Others may be supplied, if Littler decides to sell them.

White Muscat 1983 – £139
Kokur Surozh 1971 – £115
White Muscat Livadia 1964 – £188
White Muscat 1959 – £247
Pinot Gris 1949 – £298
Kagor Ayu Dag (red) 1939 – £372
Tokay Ai-Danil 1894 – £2,651

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