Crimea makes a wide range of wines, including dry reds and whites, but the regional speciality is sweet wines such as madeira, sherry, muscatel and port. A wine-tasting at the Massandra cellars is a must for any visitor.
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Massandra palace is also called the Palace of Alexander III in Massandra. It is one of the best architectural constructions on the southern coast of the Crimea, dating from the second half of the XIX century.
It stands in beautiful parkland on the outskirts of Yalta. Originally built for Prince C.M. Vorontsov, it was acquired by Tsar Alexander III as his summer palace in 1889. After the 1917 revolution it was used as a holiday residence by high-ranking members of the Politburo – Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev all stayed here at one time or another. In the early nineties the palace was designated a museum and opened to the public.
In Massandra abundant ornamentation, details of a Renaissance style and newly born art nouveau style can be found. However, the dominant feature is its baroque style.
The interior has now been beautifully restored. It contains a significant collection of fine art and period furniture in rooms set out to reflect the grandeur of its original nineteenth century owners.
The Massandra winery was built in the 1890’s on the Black Sea coast specifically to produce wines for the Tsar’s summer palace. Workers spent three years carving tunnels deep into Crimea’s granite mountains to provide perfect cellaring conditions for the wines. They had to be maintained at a constant temperature of 13–14°C (55.4–57.2°F).
The Massandra Collection was started in the late 19th century by the estate’s winemaker, Prince Lev Sergeivich Golitzin. He bought wines from other parts of Europe along with those he made in Crimea. The collection was continued after his death when Stalin ordered that all wines found in the Tsar’s palace be stored at the Massandra cellars.
The Massandra archive retains at least one bottle of every wine the winery produces (it continues to make wine today), but limited numbers of its old wines are released for sale.
“There are 47 Massandra vintages on offer in this auction, touching upon almost the entire catalog of what is produced at this legendary estate,” said Frank Martell, director of fine and rare wine at Heritage.
Included in the sale are a 1901 Tokay Ai Danil, which is estimated to fetch more than $1,200, and a 1905 Muscat Rosé. They are among the last remaining bottles that were actually produced for the Tsar and his family.
The other lots include a six-bottle case of 1923 White Muscat and a six-bottle case of 1954 White Muscat.
In 2001, Sotheby’s auctioned a bottle of sherry dating back to 1775 from the Massandra Collection, bearing an imperial seal. It sold for $43,500.
Wine Collector, Michel-Jack Chasseuil at the Massandra Winery.
Prince Michael of Kent at the Massandra Winery in 2012
Prince Michael of Kent at the Massandra winery, Crimea 2012. Prince Michael of Kent GCVO is a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, being a grandson of King George V and Queen Mary.
Read what other guests say about wine tasting at the Massandra winery.