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Massandra

Famous state winery of the Ukraine on the edge of Yalta on the south coast of the Crimea. Today, it comprises around 2,500 hectares of vineyards with several satellite operations. Near the village of Massandra, Count Mikhail Voronzow (1782-1856) had the Alupka Castle built and vineyards planted, for which he imported new grape varieties for the Crimea, including Aligoté, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pedro Ximenez and Sémillon. Prince Lev Golizyn owned the nearby winery Nowyj Swet (New World), where he produced sparkling wines and founded the fame of Crimean sparkling wine. Inspired by Vorinzow, the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918) commissioned Prince Golyzin in the 1890s to build the "most beautiful vineyard in the world" near the village of Massandra, and to open up the south coast for the production of sweet wines. This had the sole purpose of supplying the Tsar's summer residence Livadia with wine.

Massandra-Palast - Frontseite und Rückseite

Georgian miners drove deep cellars into the rock; on three levels there are seven galleries each with ideal storage conditions (13 to 14 °C and 90 to 95% humidity). From 1897 onwards, Count Woronzow and Prince Golizyn produced the first wines, first trying to copy the then already famous Château d'Yquem, and later Madeira, Port, Sherry and Tokaj. The climate and soil were perfectly suited to the grape varieties of the great models, but the wines developed a character of their own. Still under Prince Golizyn, Alexander Yegorow was appointed to Massandra in 1898 as the person in charge. He survived the Russian revolution of 1917 and in 1936, despite his pre-revolutionary past, he again became head of the winery. His grandson Yuri Yegorov (after his father Dimitri, who was executed by the secret service NKDW in 1937) is now the third generation of the family to run the winery.

In 1922 the wine stocks of all the Tsar's palaces of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Livadia were brought to Massandra on Stalin's order and remained there under lock and key. Production was resumed with the same strict quality control as in the time of the Tsar, so that today there is only a short gap in the stocks in the 1920s. In November 1941 the German invasion of the Crimea began. But by September, Yegorov had already had the contents of the cellar evacuated to three different locations. By the time the famous Yalta Conference was held there in February 1945, the wine was already back in its old place. Today, the winery still traditionally produces mainly (but not exclusively) sweet wines from various Muscatel varieties and Saperavi, some of which are also sprinkled.

The ideal climatic conditions produce grapes with extremely high sugar content. The barrels are made of oak wood from the surrounding forests. The vinification methods are very similar to those of Madeira, port and sherry. Under ideal storage conditions, wines are produced that can last for over a hundred years and even much older. The "Massandra Collection", already founded by Prince Golizyn, will be continued. Every year, around 10,000 bottles are added, some of which only reach the market after decades. In 1990 an auction was held at Sotheby's in London, where wines (in edible condition) were auctioned back to 1880. Specialist wine dealers still offer wines back to the beginning of the 20th century. At Sotheby's in 2001 a Sherry vintage 1775 was auctioned for $ 43.000. A wine in the port wine style appreciated by Tsar Nicholas II is Kagor, which was served on special occasions.

Picture left - Palace front view: From A. Savin - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
Picture right - palace backside GPL, Link

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