Winery Director Charged After Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi Illegally Drink 240-Year-Old Wine In Ukraine

Ukrainian prosecutors are pressing charges over a 240-year-old bottle of wine.

Putin and Berlusconi tour the Massandra winery with director Yanina Pavlenko.
Photo: EPA.

The prosecutor general of the former Crimean government has launched an investigation after Russian president Vladimir Putin and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi reportedly consumed a 240-year-old bottle of Spanish wine this week, according to the Guardian.

During a visit to the Massandra winery in Crimea, Putin and Berlusconi allegedly tasted a bottle of 1775 Jerez de la Frontera. Following its annexation of Crimea in March 2014, the winery was nationalized by Russian authorities. Its collection of rare sherry and wine dates back more than two centuries. When the winery was under Ukrainian rule, two separate presidential decrees were required to approve the sale or use of vintage bottles from its extensive collection.

“This is one of the five bottles that constitute not only Massandra’s or Crimea’s heritage, but the heritage of all Ukrainian people,” first deputy prosecutor for Crimea, Nazar Kholodnytsky, told the Associated Press news agency in Kiev on Friday.

State television showed the pair taking a tour of the cellar by Massandra director Yanina Pavlenko. According to BBC, Berlusconi is seen looking at a bottle, identified to be a vintage 1891, and asked in English, “Is it possible to drink?” To which Pavlenko replied, “Yes.”

It is unconfirmed as to whether the 1891 bottle was opened, but Ukrainian prosecutors say they are investigating the use of another bottle which is worth more than $90,000. They are preparing to charge Pavlenko with embezzlement.

Kholodnytsky said Pavlenko is wanted in Ukraine after she voted for the Russian annexation last year. “Now she’s added one more crime to high treason,” he said.

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