Crima: Massandra Wine Cellars
Massandra Winery was created by tzar Nicholas II in 1894 to produce wines for the royal court. No expenses were spared on building state of the art wine cellars in the depth of the Crimean Mountains to store and age perfect wines. Sorbonne-educated Prince Lev Golytsin was put in charge of developing world class wines to rival those of France. The subtropical Crimean climate and the protection of the mountain ranges were ideal for mostly sweet desert wines as well as fortified wines. Golytsin brought a wide range of varietals that were often blended with local grapes. While Massandra is little known in the world (first because of the Iron Curtain during the USSR days and now because of the anti-Russian sanctions, its one collection is one of the most expensive in the world, holding wines that date back to 1775 and Russian tzars’ collection. A highly-sought tour of the cellars takes you through all the underground floors including the cellars containing some really rare wines; and at the end you get to taste 9 different wines – 3 dry/3 fortified/3 desert. Massandra also has other cellars scattered around the Crimean Coast, like the one near the Vorontsov Castle (where I partook in another 9-wine tasting, because – why not?).