As maintenance and conservation work continues at the former royal estate of Tatoi near Athens, a team of specialists from the Directorate for the Preservation of Ancient and Modern Monuments has revealed a vast collection of rare wines and spirits kept in the old wine cellar.
The Directorate, part of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports, has so far opened 235 boxes and archived around 4000 bottles of wine and alcoholic beverages, many in bottles with labels of significant historical and artistic value. The collection also includes rare cans of soft drinks, which were not imported to Greece prior to the exile of the last king, Constantine II, in 1973.
In a statement by the Minister of Culture and Sports, Lina Mendoni said: “Apart from its significant collectible value, the contents of the Tatoi wine cellar are of great scientific and cultural importance. The task of promoting the former royal estate is complex and requires specialized knowledge in many different areas. For the evaluation of the wine cellar, we are in the process of collaborating with experts with the right know-how, both on the oenological level and also in terms of historical documentation.”
Greek winemakers Achaia Clauss have taken on the role of special consultants for the evaluation of the Tatoi wine cellar, signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Ministry of Culture. Periklis Baltas, head of archives at the winery, is in charge of documenting and bottles according to their rarity and oenological value, working in close collaboration with the relevant specialists from the Ministry.
Mendoni added: “The Culture Ministry’s goal, following the completion of the restoration project and converting the former Palace building into a museum, is to return part of the historical wine collection, at the discretion of the experts, to the cellar for exhibition to the public.”
The ongoing work is expected to reveal even more historical and oenological treasures at the estate. There is further 300 boxes in the collection to examine and assess, while it was noted that some of the wines and spirits are still suitable for consumption, despite being stored in less-than-ideal conditions for the past half century.
Some of the wines found in the collection include extremely rare and valuable bottles of Château Margaux, Château de Vincennes and Château Rothschild, as well as collectible beverage bottles, such as a special ceramic bottle of Chivas blended whisky to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. There is also a rich collection of labelled bottles containing wines produced at the estate itself.
Achaia Clauss Winery
Achaia Clauss has the distinction of being the oldest winery in Greece, founded in 1861 by the Bavarian Gustav Clauss. Its facilities in Patras, northwest Peloponnese, boast a Museum of Wine Art set among the vineyards of the historic estate. Gustav Clauss was the first winemaker in Greece to be credited with the concept of wine tourism, following the visit of the Austro-Hungarian empress Sissi in 1885.
Famous for its flagship red wine “Mavrodaphne,” Achaia Clauss is a much-respected and renowned winery, producing some of the best wines in Greece.
Former Royal Estate
Following a turbulent history in the early 20th century, Tatoi Palace became the summer residence of the Greek Royal Family until the abolition of the monarchy in 1973.
Located in a densely wooded estate on the southeast slopes of Mount Parnitha, the abandoned building soon fell into disrepair. Multiple efforts to raise the funding to restore the former royal estate met with political indifference until late 2019, when the Greek government announced plans for a mixed-use development after the completion of the restoration – to convert the palace into a museum documenting the history of the royal family and construct a new luxury hotel and spa on the grounds of the estate.