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Trade between Europe en Asia

The Dutch East India Company (VOC) was founded in 1602 and existed until 1800. ‘Offices’ were established in Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, Hoorn, Middelburg and Enkhuizen, from which trade with the Far East was controlled. The VOC had headquarters in Amsterdam and Batavia (now Jakarta) and trading posts in India, Ceylon, Bengal, Siam, Japan and Africa: the VOC was the first ‘multinational’ in the world. Not only trade was conducted – the cultural exchange between countries has played an important role in the history of the VOC and The Netherlands.

The VOC exported goods to Asia, for the construction of ships as well as for the trading posts and the trade. The goods came from almost all European countries: copper from Germany, iron nails from Belgium, fabrics from the Netherlands, steel from Sweden, hemp and tar from Russia, mercury from England and wine amongst others from France. Wine was mainly traded by French Huguenots who had fled to the Netherlands after the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Many settled in Amsterdam, bringing their knowledge of the wine trade with them. Amongst them were existing wine merchants from Bergerac, selling Bergerac, and especially Monbazillac, wine to the VOC.

The ship ‘Amsterdam’

The ship Amsterdam was one of the 1700 East Indiamen that were built by the Dutch East India Company. The ships jointly made about 5,000 trips to the Far East and brought prosperity to the VOC. The beautiful buildings in several cities still remind us of this Dutch Golden Age.

The Amsterdam was built at the VOC shipyard in Amsterdam in 1748. She set sail in January 1749 from the Port of Amsterdam, led by Captain William Klump for her trip to Asia. However, three weeks later the ship was seriously damaged during an unusually heavy south-westerly storm off the English coast. As a makeshift solution, Captain William Klump left his ship on a sandbank at the Hastings seafront, where, within a few weeks, it sank to the bottom of the seabed. The Amsterdam is the best preserved VOC ship that we know. Both the hull and the first boom are largely intact.


In 1984, an archaeological study of the Amsterdam was started under the auspices of the Dutch Foundation VOC ship Amsterdam. Over the course of three summers, divers excavated the rear part of the wreck. Part of the lower deck in the stern was exposed for the first time in 235 years. Large quantities of objects were still hidden in the sand layers, including a damaged wooden crate with 252 bottles. Many were broken, but among the fragments the divers found 16 bottles intact.

The wine

The contents of two of these bottles were microscopically examined by TNO in Delft. The result was compared with the accounts of the wines purchased in 1748 by the Dutch East India Company for the Amsterdam. The researchers discovered that the wine was a Monbazillac from 1747.
The bottle that you find here is an exact replica of the bottles from 1747, found in the VOC ship the Amsterdam. Just as in 1747 it is filled with a white, sweet Monbazillac.

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Wine & Gastronomy

Monbazillac has a golden yellow colour, a fine bouquet of honey and candied fruit and an elegant, sweet aftertaste. The taste resembles that of Sauternes from Bordeaux – the grape varieties used are the same: Sauvignon, Sémillon and Muscadelle; as is the method of winemaking itself.

The grapes are harvested late in the season and turn almost overripe. In favourable weather conditions “noble rot” occurs, which adds to the aroma and concentration of the grapes. They are then manually selected and harvested. Monbazillac can be kept for years and should to be consumed chilled. It is delicious with desserts, blue cheeses and foie gras.

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