ATHENS — As work to restore the summer palace of the former Greek royal family at Tatoi progresses, another rare and unusual 'treasure' has come to light: a large collection of rare wines and alcoholic beverages stored in the former royal wine cellars, with bottles and labels that are now considered historical artifacts and collector's items.
Culture and Sports Minister Lina Mendoni noted on Sunday: "The Tatoi wine and spirits collection, in addition to its significant collector value, is also of great scientific and research interest. The work to showcase the former royal estate is complex and requires specialist knowledge of many and varied areas. For the evaluation of the wine collection we are working with specialist scientists who have the knowhow, both on an oenological level and for its historic validation. Our goal is that, upon completion of the restoration work and the reuse of the palace building as a museum, the part of the collection that according to the judgement of the experts can be put on display should find its place in the existing space of the palace cellars. The Tatoi cellar, a historic collection over 50 years old, of exceptional cultural and oenological value will be visitable."
The work is currently in progress and has so far found and catalogued more than 235 cases containing 4,000 bottles of wines and spirits – many of them with labels of exceptional historic and artistic value. The 'treasure trove' has also uncovered cans of soft drinks that were not imported into Greece at the time, while some of the wines and spirits are considered still fit for consumption, despite the suboptimal conditions in which they were kept. Another 300 cases remain to be examined in order to assess the condition of their contents.
Among the rare wines found in the collection are bottles of Château Margaux, Château de Vincennes and Château Rothschild, a special edition of Chivas whisky in a ceramic bottle, produced to mark the enthronement of Queen Elizabeth II in Britain, and a collection of bottles bearing the label of the estate.
The Achaia Clauss winery has been engaged as special consultant for the evaluation of the Tatoi cellar, working pro bono following a memorandum of cooperation signed with the ministry. The company has placed the head of its historical archive, Periklis Baltas, in charge of this task.
Achaia Clauss is the first Greek winery, established in 1861 and operating continuously without interruption right up to the present day. In addition to being a modern winery, it also runs a Wine-making Museum and has specialised staff that have undertaken to evaluate the bottles found on the Tatoi estate and to group them based on their rarity and condition and to select those suitable for putting on display.