11 | 12 | 2017

Wine of «MASSANDRA»

Wine of «MASSANDRA»

 

The ability to drink a wine

Is an art that comes in time

You, who’s drinking it

Without thought and feeling

Cannot be wise or dearing

This enchanting juice

Makes you capricious and sincere,

Gives you a creative power

Or plunges you into despair.

Wine draws someone to flying,

Or knock you down

And make you crying

If, like water, you drink wine

You can’t know its real price.

Mirza-Shafi Vaseh

An ancient Greek myth says: «Cheerful and fun-loving Dionysus is enjoying his travelling about the Earth. He is also teaching people how to grow grapes and make wine from its heavy ripe bunches...». Grape-growing is one of the most labour-intensive branches of agriculture. Capricious and tender, a vine needs thorough and daily care. The very words – «grape-growing» and «wine-making» seem to be inseparable. A sun-filled grape seemingly lives on in a palate-pleasing drink. Through ripening, a bunch of grape absorbs the sun’s energy. Wine makers harness this in the juice and, through careful ageing, create a wine – a unique drink, full of the sun’s energy. Abundant sunshine and appropriate soils are always ready to render their kind assistance in promoting grape development and in the evolution of wine-making in the Crimea.

One of the largest underground cellars, with tunnels for maturing fine wines in barrel as well as in bottle, was built in Massandra on the initiative and under the supervision of Prince Leo Golitzin between 1894 and 1897. It was Prince Golitzin who also initiated the creation of a unique collection of fine table, fortified and dessert wines in Massandra. The Massandra collection is without doubt one of the greatest and most interesting in the world. It has the status of an academic library or, in wine terminology, that of an oenoteque, and it has become a historical treasure of national wine-making. This collection is a wonderful result of the creative work and the hard labour of thousands people. Perhaps a precious bottle from this collection can be compared with a great book and, like a great novel, it has its own history, plot and authors.

Among the unique fine wines of the collection there are carefully preserved wines which were made in the years of the execution of Yemel’yan Pugachev, of the duels of the famous Russian poets Alexander Pushkin and Michael Lermontov, of the Paris Commune and of the first Russian revolution to name but few momentous events. Some of the rarest examples are of wines produced in other countries: Muscat Barcelona (the vintage of 1828), Sherry India (the 1870 vintage), Marsala Floria and Chateau d’Yquem (the vintage of 1865), Muscat Lunel and Sherry Paharet (the vintage of 1848), Madeira Ribeyro Sekko (the vintage of 1837), Sherry Portuguese (the vintage of 1847), Muscat Tunisian, Sherry Santa Maria, Sherry Gloria, Port Consulate (the vintage of 1830) and the unique Sherry de la Frontera (the vintage of 1775). Wines made specially by Prince Leo Golitzin for the Russian Imperial family are also treasured in the Massandra collection. Many have splendid and fine-sounding names: “Horse-Guardsmen’s”, “Prince Golitzin’s Seventh Heaven” (the vintage of 1880), “Prince Golitzin’s Honey of Altae Pastures” (the vintage of 1886) and “Crown Honey”.

While being stored in the collection, a wine gains increasing degrees of splendour and nobility. Precious and particularly attractive in its youth, with a typical and bright aromas inherited from the grape itself, the wine gradually develops, with maturity, the delicate, soft and resinous bouquet of a fine aged wine. The wine’s appearance, with its richness of colour, brilliant, sparkling, jewel-like glints and vibrant hues, hints at the luxurious texture and fine flavours to come. All these characteristics of a fine and rare wine make it a precious gem in the Massandra crown. These miraculous wines, flourishing in the prime of life and full of colours, serve as a unique bridge between all the Massandra generations.

In 1990, 1991 and 2001 Massandra fine wines became a true sensation at the world renowned Sotheby’s auction house in London. Among the lots offered at the 2001 auction a unique bottle of Sherry de la Frontera 1775 attracted great attention from connoisseurs and sold for 50,000 USD.

At present the Massandra collection reposes in ten underground galleries and numbers about a million bottles of more than 800 different wines. Special deep stone niches were constructed in the galleries’ walls for preserving the valuable bottles in a horizontal position as required for optimum storage. Each niche contains up to 600 bottles of a specific brand of wine. All the bottles are sealed with a natural cork and have wax capsules. The condition of the bottles is under the constant supervision of experts. Every 15-20 years bottles tend to be recorked. In the underground galleries all the bottles are covered with a thin coating, known as «a noble dust of centuries». It is considered a peculiar «passport» of a bottle. This «noble dust» adds a definite charm to an old wine.

The maturation in bottle is influenced by many factors. The grape variety, the cultivation methods, the soil and the micro-climate in the relevant vineyard and other natural factors all effect the ageability. Also influential are the fortifying spirit and the sugar content as well as the balance between the acids, any tannins, the alcohol, the sugars and all flavouring matter derived from the grapes. The period of necessary bottle ageing is considerably shorter for white table, light and less extracted wines. Red table wine, in order to reach a full development of its qualities, needs much more time, which will be dictated by grape variety, the area of its growing and other factors. In general, maturity of white table wines is achieved much more quickly than for red wines. However the process of maturation and ageing of white wines will vary according to the grape variety and the exact area in which the grapes were grown as well as upon the aimed at style of the particular wine. As to the Massandra fortified, dessert and liquor wines, they are world-renowned for their astonishing longevity. They have the ability to improve for numerous decades, even for more than a century. The slow, mysterious and complex processes enable wine to become increasingly delicate, fine and unique. After many years in bottle, a fine wine begins to display its beguiling and elegant bouquet in full, as well as its delicious flavour and palate, so typical for a fine, rare wine – that very fine wine which is intended for connoisseurs and aristocracy. The delicious bouquet of bottle ageing continues to evolve towards the peak of the wine’s development. Its profound and spicy aromatic strength and elegance promote nostalgic reflections and arouse so many romantic recollections. Elegance and sensuality of flavour envelope and relax at the same time and always grant an unforgettable enjoyment of the beauty and suppleness of the magnificent body and texture of a splendid wine. Having reached their apogee, Massandra wines preserve their charms for a long, long time.

The Massandra collection stores wines of various vintages and affords anyone a great and unique opportunity to choose the wine which meets their own special requirements and recollections. A bottle of fine wine of a specific vintage is and will always be the best and most appropriate gifts to celebrate a jubilee, marriage, anniversary, or any significant event in a person’s life. When purchasing such a wine one becomes the happy owner of a real masterpiece of the wine-maker’s art, which can be appreciated by your family and perhaps by your grandchildren. Wine is a living being: it is born, grows up, enjoys a full life, then, naturally, it becomes old and the time of passing comes... Wine-makers do their best to offer everyone wine when it reaches its best qualities – an ultimate combination of flavours and maturity.

There exists a general opinion that table wines are very short-lived. Most pleasant and unexpected is the discovery of a vivid table wine, which still preserves its original palate structure and complex bouquet of bottle maturation. Alushta Red Table Wine – notably of the 1947 vintage – was a great surprise even for world connoisseurs at the 1991 Sotheby’s auction. This old, matured, collection wine did not miss its opportunity to win many hearts. Experts admired its delicate, noble bouquet and harmoniously balanced taste which had developed after the years. The wine was much in demand especially among wine-lovers and true connoisseurs of that prestige auction. The Alushta Red Table Wine is a wine of very beautiful dark ruby colour, with a complex bouquet, remarkable for its Moroccan leather notes. The palate of the wine is full, harmonious, complete, with approachable tannins and wonderful freshness, piquancy and a long, charming finish. At present Massandra offers experts unique samples of Alushta Red Table Wine of the vintages of 1988, 1990, 1993. In the famous, cool cellars of Massandra this wine has already acquired an elusive scent of violets as well as well-pronounced and pleasant hints of soft Moroccan leather. The wine is admired by everyone for its longevity and vitality.

The wine has got its name from a Spanish town – Jerex de la Frontera. For many a century Spain had been the only country of the world producing Sherry. The secret of its production was faithfully kept by the local wine-makers. This extremely fine wine always arouses an attitude of reverence. One Spanish proverb says: «In the morning sherry promotes good mood, in the afternoon – as the best aperitif, in the evening it gives you relaxation and at night sherry endows you with nice dreams.»

The Massandra wine-makers started the production of their sherry only at the beginning of the 20th century. Massandra Sherry is a wine of deep golden-amber colour, clear and bright, with a delicate, complex, piquant bouquet. It is remarkable for its intense sherry nose of raisins and roasted nuts, with incredible walnut and bitter almond flavours on the palate, which is full, typical, harmonious and distinctive.

Fine Massandra sherry is rightfully proud of its powerful and manly strength. Its golden tawny colour and rare, well-balanced and harmonious palate distinguish it from all other sherries. Its delicate, refined bouquet and well-defined flavour are unforgettable and stick in everyone’s memory forever. You will remember its light bitter taste of almond which makes it especially piquant. In the collection of the Massandra winery, sherries eagerly display their best qualities as well as showing the amusing results of longevity.

The name of this wine comes from the geographical name of the tree covered island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. During the course of five centuries of its history, Madeira’s wine has become world-recognized and a remarkable aperitif wine as well as a fine tonic. Madeira, being «twice born in the sun» – first in grape clusters and then – matured in cask, left in the sun on ullage to develop the full maderisation that makes these wines so distinctive – is a marvellous wine. It is widely - known for its spicy astringency and soft vanilla-brandy notes on a noble palate. The colour of Madeira is like a summer suntan. Its delicate and distinctive bouquet is nicely complemented by the harmony of flavour and long, elegant finish. Massandra Madeira is highly appreciated as one of the best wines of the world. By its quality it is recognized equal in style and quality to the best of examples from Madeira itself. Yet Massandra Madeira still has its own features and characteristics which differentiate it from the original Portuguese wine. It is deeper and richer in its golden amber colour. Its bouquet is brighter and more delicate. It has more distinctive fullness and richness of palate. The intensity and typicity of these characteristics places Massandra Madeira amongst the great classic wines of the world. In the different historical periods, as well as in different regions of the Eastern Coast of the Crimea, the Massandra wineries have been producing original fortified wines of very high quality such as Madeira Kuchuk-Uzen, Madeira Alushta and Madeira Koktebel. The wine-makers of Massandra have managed to unite all the features of Madeira and to create the remarkable and coherent style of Crimean Madeira, which continues to be produced by the Massandra winery today.

The samples of Massandra Madeira and Crimean Madeira stored in the collection are made from different vintages and are well-known for their high quality. This is explained by the fact that only the best wines, which exhibit the highest qualities year on year, are chosen for extended ageing. These wines, both those imported from Europe and those produced by the Massandra winery at the end of the 19th century, are beautiful jewels of the Massandra collections. These unique wines represent a precious heritage of classic wine-making: Portuguese Madeira of the «Kron Brothers», the vintage of 1871, Madeira «India» of Prince Volkonsky, Madeira «Punch», Madeira «Extra», Old Madeira, Madeira of Ribejro Secco, Madeira of Yeliseyev. Each year young wines enrich the collection and find their own places in niches of ten galleries. Bottles of golden, sunlit Madeira are going to grant a new enjoyment to connoisseurs and beauty lovers for many years ahead.

Historically this wine was first made in Porto in Portugal, and was named after this town. Port is a vigorous and soft, full and harmonious, powerful and noble wine. Nowadays port style wines are produced in practically all wine-making areas of the world. Wines of this type are represented by a wide choice of names. By their colour, ports are mostly white or red, rarely rose. The colour of white ports varies from golden to golden-amber; the colour of red ports is also variable – from red to ruby-red, as to rose ports, they are of rose and dark rose colour. A fine old port nose displays ripe fruit, soft, concentrated, harmonious flavours and beautiful balance. In the Massandra winery, the production of high-quality, fortified, port-style wine began under the supervision of Prince Leo Golitzin, chief wine-maker of the Crown Lands’ Department in the 19th century. New wines got their names according to their type and the place of their origin: Livadia Red Port, Massandra Red Port, Ai-Danil Red Port, Livadia White Port.

Port is a produced from a number of different grape varieties – grown in different viticulture regions – of which Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre are the principals. Cabernet Sauvignon is used for the production of red port by the «red method» (the fermentation in contact with the skins) while the «white method» (where the juice is removed from contact with skins as quickly as possible) is used for the production of white ports. Of unique bouquet and flavour, century old Crimean wines have been preserved in the Massandra collection up to the present day. Examples are: Livadia Red Port from the vintages 1891, 1892, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1901, 1903 and 1906; Massandra Red Port from the vintages 1893, 1894, 1896, 1897, 1900, 1901 and 1903; Ai-Daniel Red Port from the vintages 1893, 1899, 1901, 1902 and 1903; Livadia White Port of the vintages 1891,1892 and 1894, amongst others.

At present the Massandra collection contains remarkable examples of various high-quality ports such as Sudak White Port, Alupka White, Alushta White Port, Cabernet Sauvignon White Port, Alushta Red Port and Tavrida Red Port. Many of these differ from one another by grape varieties used for production, by the handling and winemaking techniques employed, by alcohol and sugar content and by characteristics of the wine.

Massandra also offers a great variety of fine white ports made from high quality grape varieties such as Crimean White Port, Surozh White Port and South Coast White Port. Additionally a group of red ports made from red varieties comprises Massandra Red Port, Livadia Red Port, Crimean Red Port and South Coast Red Port.

For the production of port-style wines, grapes are harvested only when they have reached a natural sugar content of 18-20%. The must is fortified to produce fine wines.

A long, complex and labour-intensive process of ageing enables a young wine to mature and become a high quality fine wine, ready for bottling and then for selling or for further ageing in bottle. By the time of sale, fine white ports have acquired a tawny, dark-tawny or amber colour. They gain a beautifully soft, mature, rich port wine bouquet, as well as a full, rich palate with lovely fruit, notes of honey and almond, great balance and harmony. The Massandra white ports are known for their long lingering finish and aftertaste.

In the early years of maturation the Massandra fine red ports have a deep colour which evolves over time to a dark ruby-garnet. They develop a rich, yet elegantly expressed, ripe fruit bouquet of mature port and a well balanced and concentrated flavour. The palate is spicy, with cherry fruit, currant and prune hints. The palate of red ports is very rich, full, harmonious and powerful with some light tannin and at the same time it impresses by its softness and velvety texture. When bottled and stored in the Massandra cellars, ports, like all other wines, undergo tremendous evolution. Through appreciation of them one has a wonderful feeling of being involved in a mysterious masterpiece of wine-making. Memory should preserve this miraculous moment forever.

These ports can be stored long term at home also so long as they are kept in the horizontal position.

It is interesting to note that room temperature is most favourable for the serving of ports, as due to it they are able to display their aromas and flavours to the full. Port is good both before and after meals. Connoisseurs consider that port should be served in classic wine glasses. It can be matched with various meat dishes. However, a good old port ideally suits a good mature cheese. Ports also accompany soft creamy cheese, quince jam, which the Portuguese call «marmalade», all hearty meals and sweet desserts. Traditionally port is considered to be a good dessert wine that may be offered with cakes, pies, tarts and other sweet dishes.

Those who enjoy ice-cream are to be aware that port does not like light fruit ice cream but shows a preference for good buttered chocolate and nut ice cream and is ready to welcome it at any time of a day. When choosing a suitable companion for good port, it is better not to forget about various nuts. Having distinguished itself by its own perceptible nut hints, port always greets the moment when it is followed by delicious nuts.

Port is known for its ability to give warmth. It invigorates, serves as a remedy for some diseases and definitely considerably improves mood. The palate is beautifully full and spicy, rich in fruit and remarkable for oily nut and soft vanilla-brandy hints, boasting great elegance combined with mouthfilling power. Also soft and expressive, having good depth, port fascinates by its mysterious charm and recalls an Indian summer.

The South Coast of the Crimea – a land of plenty – generously shares its natural gifts, though sometimes still carefully withholding some of its secrets. Only inquisitive, hard working winemakers, with their boundless love and loyalty to land, with their irreproachable taste and talent, are anxious and ready to find that very golden mean that helps the Massandra winery to get the highest awards for its precious production. Gold and silver medals have been awarded in recognition of the soft aroma, delicate bouquet, noble, enchanting, pronounced, honeyed palate of numerous Massandra dessert and liquor wines. The best wines – White Muscat, Rose Muscat, Black Muscat – highlight the glory of all the Massandra dessert and liquor wines.

Each Muscat has its own distinguishing characteristics, nevertheless they also have much in common. The best Muscat wines are produced only in years of specific weather conditions. They demand abundance of sunshine and sufficient humidity of soil, without dry winds which greatly disturb the delicate vines. Grapes are harvested as late as possible when they have become shrivelled and raisined. As most of the aromas are contained within the skin, the secret of the best Muscat wines is a long maceration on the skins after the grapes have been destemmed. All Muscat wines are grouped into two main types.

The first type is the result of late harvesting when most of the aroma is contained within the skin. Sugar content and weight are obvious, whereas the Muscat aromatics are less expressive. The second type of wine is made from grapes which are of an earlier harvest and is known for it lower sugar content and well-pronounced Muscat aroma.

The best Muscat wines are those which have not lost the fresh Muscat aromas but have already acquired the lovely, rich, mouthfilling, noble and very long, unctuous flavours of a delicate and beautiful wine.

With respect to age, Muscat wines also fall into two types. In the young Massandra Muscat wines the grapey aroma prevails, promising to turn into a pronounced floral, honeyed, resinous bouquet in years. No Muscat wine in the whole world keeps its aroma for so long as the famous Massandra Muscat wines. Some connoisseurs highly appreciate the pronounced Muscat aroma of young wine, others are aware of the fact that only a mature Muscat wine displays its huge bouquet in full, becoming rich both in delicate grapey aroma and the elegant resinous hints which develop after extended bottle ageing. These exhibit the finest flavours, greatest harmony of palate, longest finish and most excellent aftertaste.

After 25 years, Muscat’s beautifully pronounced bouquet begins to display a very fine pungency and fine resinous hints. The palate becomes highly concentrated with an aftertaste of peaches, quince and honey and it becomes rich and mouthfilling, with very long flavours of field flowers from the Crimean mountainous valleys, which make the wine so perfect. The colour of the collection’s White Muscat wines gets richer and deeper, sometimes reminding one of the colour of melted gold. The delicate and soft palate is embellished with unctuous, harmonious and spicy tints, so typical of the hot summers of the south. While being stored in the collection for years the wines reach absolute perfection. Years will pass and new generations will have an opportunity to enjoy these fascinating drinks and to express their gratitude to those who have created them, thinking about future drinkers. The best and most distinguished wines of this type as well as the oldest ones are white Muscat wines, made from Muscat Frontignac and Muscat Lunel. The name of Muscat wine is always associated with the aroma of musk. The bouquet of white Muscat wines depends greatly upon the conditions for grape growing. For example, Livadia White Muscat is distinguished by its strong Muscat aroma with hints of tea-rose. Red Stone White Muscat, the vineyards for the production of which are at a higher altitude than those for the Livadia wine, is known for its floral, honey and citrus tones. Nature is generous towards White Muscat. It is endowed with wonderful aroma as well as with beautiful colour, rich bouquet and intense palate. Muscat is fascinating in its revelation of natural harmony. The amazing colour palette of white Muscat wines impresses everyone by its splendour and beauty. The wines play with sunny sparks of light, tawny, golden, red brown, dark mahogany, intense amber-olive yellow, red golden, amber-golden and marvellous amber colours.

The bouquet of this wine is well pronounced, original, rich in the pungent aroma of the Muscat grape variety with delicate, honey hints of alpine meadows, soft tea-rose and light spicy orange peel notes. The palate of the wine is unctuous and velvety. Good palate with supreme balance also depends upon grape variety, which, in turn, is affected by climate and soil conditions of the South Coast of the Crimea. Maturation techniques are also of great importance. High sugar content and the harmonious combination of subtle flavours – citrus, honey, raisin, peach – accompanied by the fragrance of flowering alpine meadows create a unique palate for this wine which is turning into nectar of the Earth. Muscat itself symbolises blossoming and beauty of Nature.

Red Stone White Muscat is rightly considered to be a masterpiece of the Massandra classical wine-making. It is recognized to be King of Muscat wines of the world. At present this excellent and absolutely splendid wine has already won two Grand-Prix Cups and 17 gold medals.

Fine Red Stone White Muscat wines – jewels of the Massandra collection – have a fantastic ability to captivate even exacting connoisseurs of wine. They are enchanted by its lovely rich mouthfeel, very long, unctuous flavours and subtle hints of exotic fruits and flowers, its elegance and perfection of flavour and structure. This wine is one of the best additions to any festive meal.

The splendid grape variety Pink Muscat is very close to that of White Muscat. This capricious grape has been known on the Southern Coast of the Crimea since the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. The Pink Muscat variety distinguishes itself by its very beautiful colour and amazing aroma.

The Massandra Pink Muscat wines are striking for their vibrant, elegant pink colour with pronounced ruby hues. Its ethereal yet entrancing rose petal bouquet is delicate and elegant at the same time. It has a well-pronounced Muscat aroma, which is in full harmony with notes of tea-rose or the Kazanlyk rose. Its sweet, but beautifully balanced palate, is rich in body and seems to be velvety; it is a charming combination with hints of sweet-scented peaches, ripe Muscat aromatics, fragrant essence of rose petals and rose liqueur. Unique harmony of bouquet and palate makes this wine splendid and enchanting. Pure and clean, it has a remarkable longevity. It is a nectar that will last for years.

The unique grape variety of Black Muscat was introduced to the Crimea in the first half of the 19th century and has become known under the name of Muscat Kalyaba (Kalyabsky Muscat).

Outstanding examples of fine Black Muscat wines are present in the Massandra collection. This wine is distinguished by its surprisingly bright, full, rich, ruby red colour. It gives the impression of jewellery, when sparkling and glistening with numerous hues of ruby colour in a wine glass. The attractive, deep bouquet is impressive for its variety and complexity, being a melange of light chocolate hints, prunes and the spicy fragrance of camomile. The beautiful, intense colour and exceptional bouquet of Black Muscat wine compliment one another. The full, round, soft palate is enchanting with delicate hints of coffee, cocoa and with chocolate overtones.

On the Southern Coast of the Crimea all the Massandra Muscat wines so vividly display their amazing features that the unique Muscat dessert and liqueur wines have become a kind of a visiting card of the Massandra winery, the card that is easily recognized in its own country as well as in all countries of the world.

Sudak, Sugdeya, Surozh are the names of a Crimean settlement. History has carefully preserved them for future generations. At present the little town lies in the Sudak valley, surrounded by mountains and hills from three sides and washed by the waters of warm sea from the fourth. The valley is beautifully dotted with orchards and numerous vineyards, where grapes have been grown from ancient times.

One of the most distinguished local grape varieties is the white Kokur, the vineyards of which are widely spread all along the eastern coast of the Crimea. This local white grape variety is mostly used for the production of a dessert wine – Kokur Surozh.

This wine has a lovely amber-golden colour and extraordinary bouquet, developing from honey, apricot and field flowers when young to sponge and chocolate cake when mature. Fine Kokur Surozh dessert wines of the Massandra collection have already passed a long period of bottle maturation in the mysterious quietness of cool underground cellars. Without losing hues of sunny colour and subtle hints on bouquet and palate, they have mysteriously concentrated the energy of the sun’s rays while being stored in the darkness of subterranean galleries. The wines are famous for their beautiful palette of golden colours and hues – from light golden to tawny, almost red amber, as well as for their extraordinary bouquet developing from honey, melon and fragrant flowers to well-pronounced hints of nuts.

The elegant liqueur wine Ay-Danil Pinot-Gris is made from the grape variety Pinot Gris (Gray Pino) at Ay-Danil.

Ay-Danil Pinot-Gris is fascinating for its unique tawny colour with rosy-apricot hues, which are evident when the wine is young. The colour of the wine depends upon an abundance of the sunshine. When the summer is hot and dry, grapes are as if tanned or burned in the sun. The wine made from such grapes develops an apricot colour with a beautiful amber hue.

After two years maturing in barrel in dark, cool cellars, Ay-Danil Pinot-Gris becomes amber-golden in colour with apricot glints. Its bouquet is bright and very elegant while the palate is well-pronounced and grapey with light hints of honey and some aromas of rye bread crust. The palate is very soft, deep, slightly unctuous and spicy. Luscious palate and refined bouquet make for an harmonious, beautiful and splendidly charming fine wine. Ay-Danil Pinot-Gris is definitely a masterpiece of Crimean winemaking.

The excellent balance gives Ay-Danil Pinot-Gris wines an exceptionally long life. Its mouthfilling palate has beautiful, long finish. During maturation in the collection these wines become famously harmonious and nearer to perfection.

This noble wine has got its name from the town of Malaga in the south of Spain. The climatic conditions of this area are mostly favourable to growing those grape varieties which are capable of producing exceptional sugar levels. Wine made from such varieties is sweet and charming, with a tawny colour. The wine has been known as «a mountainous wine». While ageing in bottle, the bouquet and palate of Malaga improves dramatically. There are splendid examples of Malaga in the Massandra collection, they have been stored here for more than 100 years.

On the South Coast of the Crimea the Imperial Court’s Land Department used to produce an aristocratic wine – Malaga and sell it under the names of Livadia Malaga and Massandra Malaga. The wine is surprising by its exceptional sugar levels (more than 40%) as well as by its dark brown colour with golden amber and rosy brightness. It is highly appreciated for its high tones, liquorice, dark chocolate hints as well as for its great concentration. It has a distinguished bouquet, is luxurious like velvet on the palate and has a very long, rich finish. It is a melange of typical, slightly bitter hints of spicy caramel and full, concentrated coffee-chocolate palate with nice «oiliness». The Massandra collection contains superb samples of Malaga of the vintages of 1891, 1914 and 1915, which are still fully and fantastically alive.

Tokay is originally a Hungarian wine, named after the town of Tokay in the north-east of Hungary.

Since 1892 this wine has been produced in Massandra and Ay-Danil. All of the wines – Ay-Danil Tokay, Massandra Tokay, Livadia Tokay – are made from late harvested Furmint and Harslevelu varieties, as in Hungary, though the technique for the production of these unique wines in the Crimea differs from that of the traditional Hungarian ones. The wines can be exceptionally concentrated especially if the grapes have been affected by botrytis (noble rot). These wines require very long ageing to be at their best and are capable of extraordinary longevity.

Tokays are enchanting by their full, deep mahogany colour with golden glints, well pronounced grapey bouquet, soft developed nose of lovely honey, with deep hints of ripe quince and quince jam and light aroma of newly-baked rye bread crust. Unique colourfulness, richness of bouquet and full harmonious palate as well as softness and ‘oiliness’ make this wine extraordinary and marvellous. It is a great surprise how all the Massandra Tokays display themselves during long bottle ageing in the collection – they maintain their high grapey quality for many years. Maturation merely serves to improve their bouquet and flavour, making them very elegant and exceptionally fine. Fullness and richness, which appear as the result of the great extract, make them extremely harmonious. Aroma of the Furmint and Harslevelu grape varieties, which is typical for young Tokays, turns into a unique bouquet after long bottle maturing. Resinous hints make Tokays even more elegant. Delicate and bright grapey flavours with tones of quince and honey, velvet palate of nectar make these wines so delicate and fragrant that they are reminiscent of perfumes of Nature.

Alexander A. Yegorov – a coryphaeus of the Massandra wine-making wrote: «In 1945 the best Hungarian experts of wine-making made an acquaintance with Alushta Tokay, without knowing its origin, in the Massandra winery. They highly appreciated the quality of wine and also noticed that it had been made by very good specialists, though definitely it was not the same wine as Tokay, produced in Hungary. They were absolutely right, but we were not upset to know that we were producing a new Tokay. We were not going to make wine of other countries. We have to create our wine, unique and incomparable». These unique and remarkable Tokay wines are a real treasure of the Massandra collection, where all of them are improving their quality, reaching perfection of bouquet and flavour. They become even more elegant, beautiful and harmonious as they mature. All connoisseurs are greatly impressed by their very long palate and marvellous aftertaste.

The name of this wine has its origin in the name of the French town of Cahors, situated near the Pyrenean mountains. It is interesting to know that the production of this wine began by a special order of the Russian priesthood, which used it for the ceremony of communion at the end of the 19th century. Later the production of Cahors began in the wine-making republics of the Soviet Union, however, the best Cahors is still being produced only on the South Coast of the Crimea. The Massandra winery started producing this marvellous wine in 1933 under the name of Ayu-Dag Cahors. Made exclusively from a grape variety which has red juice as well as red skins these wines age exceedingly well. The area of their production greatly expanded in the Crimea and soon all the South Coast wineries of Massandra were making the original and rich South Coast Cahors from the Saperavi grape variety (an ancient Georgian grape), which proved itself as one of the best varieties for the production of dessert wines.

Saperavi is a grape variety with intense dark blue colour and with a suffused hue because of vivid wax coating. Saperavi grapes are oval in form, either average or large in size, with deep red skin. They are good for the production of ageworthy, tawny red wines. This grape variety has got its name Saperavi, due to the meaning of a Georgian word – «a dyer».

The Saperavi grape variety has a remarkable ability to accumulate sugar and at favourable climatic and soil conditions its sugar level reaches 28-30%, usually by the end of October in the Crimea. Grapes are drying by that time, though acidity of juice is slightly higher.

South Coast Cahors is a fine red dessert wine. Initially dark red in colour, the wine takes on an attractive tawny red hue later, becoming a deep ruby with purple hints, almost opaque and very like a dark southern night. Meanwhile it develops its interesting fruit flavours. The bouquet of the wine is complex, grapey, with hints of milky cream and blackcurrant. After many a year in bottle it acquires hints of coffee, chocolate and vanilla. The mature palate is strong, powerful, full of extract, with soft sharpness and velvety breadth. It has an attractive fruity nose with hints of prunes, currants, cream and chocolate. After bottle ageing deep colour, grapey palate and rich body of South Coast Cahors attain soft and delicate elegance, which is beautifully proved by the unique samples of Massandra Cahors in the collection.

This fine red dessert wine is produced from the Magarach Bastardo grape variety only in the Massandra winery since 1966. This grape variety is the result of crossing of two grape varieties of high quality – Portuguese Bastardo and Georgian Saperavi. Magarach Bastardo as a good offspring, has inherited the best quality of the first variety and the productivity of the second. Magarach Bastardo is a wine of a dark garnet or dark ruby colour with beautiful brightness. Its complex grapey bouquet is deep, rich, with piquant notes of cream chocolate. Its palate is complete, harmonious, velvety and fragrant, full of nice warm tones of coffee, chocolate and vanilla as well as having a long and lovely aftertaste. Bottle maturing of these fine, original wines creates unique harmonious colour with ruby, garnet and purple hues. Rich and very beautiful flavour seems to underline its vanilla-chocolate elegance and noble palate.

The Aleatico is a red grape variety of Italian origin, known from the remote past. In 1830 it was introduced to the Crimea and planted in the Alushta and Ay-Danil areas where it has the chance to display its remarkable dessert abilities in full. Favourable natural conditions of the South Coast of the Crimea enable wine-makers first to produce the marvellous fine red dessert wine, Aleatico Partenit, and then (since 1951), Ayu-Dag Aleatico. Aleatico of the South Coast of the Crimea is very beautiful in colour, very rich, well-pronounced in flavours. The bouquet is spicy, of typical dessert wine opulence with hints of vanilla chocolate. The luscious palate of the wine is harmonious and soft with tones of rose petals and hints of coffee and cacao. Bottle ageing in dark niches of cool, mountainous tunnels makes this beautiful wine extremely marvellous and perfect in its two collection types – Aleatico Partenit and Ayu-Dag Aleatico.

The Massandra collection is also proud of its rare samples of Lacrima Christi wines made from the Aleatico grape variety. These wines are of the vintages of 1894, 1896, 1897. They are still ageing in bottle in the collection.

Coming to the end of this description of a large group of unique, elegant, noble collection wines, which are precious pearls of the Massandra treasure, we would like to mention the fact that all these wines, entering their new centenary, are so excellent that memory will keep them forever. Everyone who tastes Massandra fine wines will be captivated by their magic colour and entranced by their elegant bouquet and delicious palate.

Wine gives great enjoyment thanks to preserving secrets of old techniques and traditions, remembering the labour and care of hundreds of workers. Wine is a piece of art, an embodiment of creators’ talents and feelings. Like natural beauty or wonderful art, wine never fails to inspire poets and writers, composers and artists, across the world and across the ages.

World literature knows many beautiful poems and songs, hymns and stories, dedicated to wine.

Wine is glorified in the famous Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet. One of his beautiful Rubaiyats says:

Like a rose in white jasmine

is wine in your glass,

like flame from ashes is

this crimson brightness

in snow whiteness.

Forget about all comparisons

They fail to depict wine –

A drink that’s a shrine.

You will also find beautiful verses of the great William Shakespeare about wine, to whom it recalled fragrance of roses in blossom and thus the approach of summer.

The outstanding Russian poet Alexander Pushkin gave it his due in his verse in honour of wine – a creation of Nature and Man:

An amber goblet

is already brimmed and shines

Thankful I am proposing

my toast to all wines

It seems that all the poets used to and continue to write beautiful words about the fine wines of Massandra, which are mysterious and magic. Once they have been just like pearls, cast on luxurious velvet of the Crimean South Coast greenery, and later they have become as marvellous and great as brilliants.

There is only one way to share this idea, to take it by heart and soul – to taste these extremely excellent wines, ideally in Massandra itself.

Before saying «Good bye» to the readers, let me remind you a secret of a true connoisseur of wine – Emile Peynaud, who says in his book «Taste of Wine»:

«You have to drink not much but competently for having

A chance to drink for a long time»

«MASSANDRA»