1968 Mavrodaphne “Imperial”, Achaia Clauss, Patras, Greece


Ok, now this one’s a special bottle. Not because it was an expensive gift or a particular finding. Simply because it’s a bottle that has just been there in our cellar, like forever. I guess my parents have once received it as a gift and just put it on a shelve. And myself, since I’ve been of “legal age” have simply been staring at that bottle as if it was some kind of perished ancient relict from a time when all wines were made to get an instant headache.

Then somehow, all of the sudden, on a day when I didn’t know what to pick, I came accross this bottle and suddenly felt experimental.
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Sometimes it’s only when you hold an item in your hand that you start feeling interested in it. The label states in bold letters that this is a Mavrodaphne from Patras made by Achaia Clauss, or Αχάια Κλάους. Again, my brain instantly sends out alarm messages, identifying this bottle as potential cheap Greek sweet wine that gives a headache.
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But curiosity prevails. The little tax band covering the cork reveals the number 1969, hinting that the content might at least be a 1968 vintage. Now.. I truly have to find out more about this one…

What I didn’t know, but what my web enquiries taught me, is that there’s quite a myth attached to this winery. It has been founded and built with the looks of a castle in 1859 by a Bavarian German named Gustav Clauss, who consequently started exporting the wines back to Germany. During the 19th century the estate became a popular destination for Greek Monarchs and their guests: Otto von Bismarck and Franz Liszt allegedly stayed there. After the second World War the estate fell into Greek hands with the Antonopoulos familiy investing heavily (current owner is Nikos Karapanos). Interestingly the winery was again a jet set destination in the 1970’s when Aristoteles Onassis and Omar Sharif were regular guests (source: German Wikipedia).

Imagine Onassis standing on top of that tower

But what about the wines? The story tells that Gustav Clauss introduced the Mavrodafni cultivar stemming from the Ionian Islands to the surroundings of Patras where the winery is located. The wines are created through fortification, with addition of alcohol and apparently oxidation also plays a role, which means that the Solera method from Jerez might be employed, but I’m not sure I’ve got that right. The most conclusive source of information about the winery is within a report about Greek winemakers I found here.


So what about the content of my bottle? When I first poured it I thought there wouldn’t be much hope with such a brown color, a possible symbol of decay. but when held against sunlight, the color gets the most brilliant shine, making it the most appealing chestnut brown ever.

The nose seems a bit blunt and closed at first.

On the palate the wine appears with notes of malt, but also seems lemony and balsamic and is carried by a compelling acidity. Presence and length are more tham impressive for a wine this age and are probably supported by the remainder of  16% alcohol.

During that time the nose opens up and displays the same intense aromatics, appearing balsamic, lemony with the addition of a dried herbs mix.

Somehow there isn’t any sign that this wine has passed its time. It rather seems that it has entered a timeless stage where flavors and aromatics are bound for eternal pleasure.

It has reached flavours that are more on the caramel and malt side, but with that sort of deep and tickling acidity it also holds a freshness and balsamic fruitiness that represents a juvenile kind of appeal.

A wine to be indulged on its own, but supposedly also a match for some sophisticated desserts.

Incredible! This is how one can underestimate a wine that’s been standing on the shelve forever.
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I’d be curious to find out more about it.





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Categories: Greece
  1. Wine Rambler Said,

    What an adventure! I like to indulge in unusual old wine finds, but this beats my recent adventures. Seems I really should raid your cellars one day… Torsten

  2. Blindtaster Said,

    Haha, I’m afraid there are not many such findings left.. Maybe you’re interested in some “Pfälzer Landwein”, judging from the dust I’d say the vintage is 1982 or 1983 :P!
    This one was a genuine lucky pick. Love to have some comments from connaisseurs of these types of wines though… my insights are to few here!

  3. Wine Rambler Said,

    Aged wine, even if it is “Pfälzer Landwein”, should always be worth exploring. Hm, I may regret that sentence one day…

  4. Blindtaster Said,

    Definitely! :)

  5. Tom Said,

    I recently bought on eBay a bottle of Achaia Clauss Mavrodaphne from 1873! I corresponded a bit with the winery and they do operate a solera-type system of topping up barrels with wine from the next-oldest vintage. But still, it’s pretty exciting that my bottle contains a decent % of juice from grapes squashed in 1873.

  6. Blindtaster Said,

    1873! Fascinating!Did you have a taste of it already? Thanks for the info concerning the Solera-method! Cheers

  7. Tom Cole Said,

    No I haven’t opened it. I’ve since acquired another old vintage of the same wine – 1883 this time. Waiting for the right moment…

  8. Blindtaster Said,

    Well, keep us updated! Cheers

  9. Roman Oganesian Said,


    Very interesting. I was looking at the history of the bottle that you are describing because I have exactly the same bottle and I am not sure what to do with it.

    I’ve had this bottle for about 8 years and prior to that it belong to a good friend who was into wines and unfortunately passed away.


  10. Blindtaster Said,

    Hello Roman, thanks for your comment. I’d suggest you open the bottle and have a try when you have a relaxed moment of free time! Let me know how it was.
    Greets, Alex

  11. gerry ross Said,

    i have a bottle of white wine from achaia clauss.
    sta helena 1997
    bottle marking is TP 110561 97
    and label + 008292
    there seems to some sediment at the bottom and floats around when shaken.
    would like your opinion if this is drinkable
    thanks 30.12.2013

  12. Blindtaster Said,

    Hello Gerry. Thanks for your comment. I don’t know this particular wine so I’m sorry I can’t give you any tips.Easiest would be to pop the cork and try it out! ;)

  13. wine gift Said,

    I have been given a bottle of this wine that was found in a wine cellar of a friend of mine mothers house. The label and bottle still look very new and there’s no floaters in the bottle. The number on it is 243/1969, is it safe to assume this means it was bottle 243 of a batch? Does anyone have any idea what it is worth, if anything?

  14. Dave P Said,

    I, too, have a cellar find. CURIOUS WHAT YEAR. Absolutely no year identification and in original box. Same winery. Much older styling on label. Upper label “Original 601 Mavrodaphne”. Most interesting is “NET.1PINT 7 FL.OZ.”, making it pre-metric… Also has liquor store’s sticker on box. No tax stamp nor signs there ever was. Possibly 1960’s, based on graphic styling. Also previous owners age and hunch it was a wedding memoir.
    Considering trading it for needed vehicle fuel in Florida.

  15. Gary Backlund Said,

    I also have a bottle of 1873 Mavrodaphne from Achaia Claus. Have any idea how it has held up? What was the price via e-Bay…does anyone know? Just curious if it is even drinkable :-)

  16. Gary Backlund Said,

    I also have a bottle of 1873 Mavrodaphne from Achaia Claus. Have any idea how it has held up? What was the price via e-Bay…does anyone know? Just curious if it is even drinkable :-)

  17. John Taylor Said,

    Dear tasters, reading your comments I realize I too have a bottle of Mavrodaphne of Patras, vin de liqueur,dessert wine, 750ml 15% alk/vol the number on the tax band sealing the bottle is 194224. was that the year the wine was bottled and ( as I have not opened it ) how did it fare in the good wine list. I would appreciate any comments good or bad and is it worth keeping,

  18. Gary Backlund Said,

    I opened my bottle of the 1873 for a 70th birthday. It was FABULOUS and the hit of the party. Concentrated, rich, had held up VERY well. A real treat!

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