Corfiot wine was invariably fizzy, acidic, volatile, and made, for the most part, from phylloxera-infested time-warped vineyards. On this Corfu Nico was born in the year when Romanée-Conti (the lieu-dit) had its first vintage after an absence of seven years with grafted vines.
His Irish mother came to a civil-war torn Greece as a volunteer with Save the Children. Nico grew up on the (then) not much changed face of this Ionian island, which enthralled a teenager Gerald Durrell into what later became his classic novel My Family and Other Animals.
It was not after conducting an exhaustive study of his native island’s wine that Nico became smitten. His lifelong passion with fine wine began when he moved to London to study hotel management. And it was on a trip to La Mora, Italy in 1976 when he bought a bottle of the career-changing Maurizio Fracassi Barolo 1967. Nico went on to live and work in the wine business for many years in England, France and North America.
For the past 18 years Nico has specialised as a commentator on Greek wine. This chapter of his life should be named “Making my life difficult – adventures in the Greek vineyard”. He admits that his quixotic high expectations vs. reality have more than often disappointed him. As a true descendant of the “stradioti” Marino Manessi in the service of Venice, he undertakes his wine crusade on the civilised side of “taking no prisoners”.
Nico gets much pleasure from reading non-wine books. Loves ethnic music and jazz, enjoys cooking and travelling.
Member of the Académie Internationale du Vin (http://www.academievin.com)
Regional Chair for Greece of the Decanter World Wine Awards
I teach at L’ Ecole du vin de Changins in Switzerland, at L’ Universite du Vin, Souze la Rouse in France and at Le Monde, Institute of Hotel and Tourism Studies in Greece. I also give ad hoc presentations in the Greek vineyard and around the world.
For teaching inquiries you may contact Nico Manessis
“Greece is grateful to Nico Manessis for his leading role and devotion in the promotion of Greek wines abroad.” Evangelos Gerovassiliou, President of Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard (ENOABE).
When our son saw my award, he asked if I had received a wine Grammy. The award was given to me in appreciation of my efforts in promoting Greek wine, by the Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard (ENOABE). It was a complete surprise, because the letter informing me of this honour, six months earlier had never arrived. I only found out at a Thessaloniki book signing, when the manager of ENOABE told me, “You are rather quiet about the award.” As I stood dumbfounded he went on to tell me about the awards ceremony. Just a few weeks later I found myself standing in front of a large audience in Athens.
If there was one message that January afternoon, from the 300 or so people in attendance, it was the appreciation towards my crusade by one of the largest gatherings of farmers, winery owners and their teams. Besides ENOABE’s 28 wineries members, people had come from all other regions. Leading the way was a large contingent from the Peloponnese as well as a number of island vineyards. I was chuffed to say the least. It had not all been in vain.
Highlights of his endeavours
Appearance on NBC – During the Athens 2004 Olympics, I appeared live on NBC to present Greek wine, not yet having exhausted my 15 minutes of fame .Those 4.5 minutes of TV beamed into 8 million homes during the summer Olympic Games seemed like an eternity. After going off the air the NBC TV crew sampled some of the bottles dry.it was +39C on an unforgettable summer afternoon. The broadcast spurned more interest in Greek wine from the U.S. press and wine consumers.
Greece triumphs at Vintner’s Hall in London – Also in the summer of 2004, William Sitwell of Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine had the idea to pit wine Greece against the rest of the world. Result : Greece 4 , rest of the World 2 – a clear victory!
‘Geneva-based Nico Manessis has been spreading the gospel of fine Greek wine for years now with near incredible persistence’ – Jancis Robinson
‘I thought that Greek wine was an easy learn, but Nico has shown me that it is far more complex and I have had to work harder to keep up. Nico has constantly and consistently kept me informed about what is going on, who are the underperformers, who are at the top of their game, and who are the new kids on the block. It is far more exciting than I ever imagined since I first visited Greek vineyards in the early 1980′s. The Greek wine industry should be very grateful to Nico Manessis for getting the word out to the rest of the world.’ – Tom Stevenson
‘I have been told that there should be a statue of me in the Napa Valley for having put California wines on the map back in 1976 at what became known as the The Judgement of Paris. Nico Manessis has done one hundred times more for Greek wine, and there should be plaque of recognition, perhaps even a name of a street or a square, in every vineyard region of the country.’ – Steven Spurrier
‘Bravo.’ – Andrew Jefford on, The Illustrated Greek Wine Book (2001)
‘The new Illustrated Greek Wine Book will, no doubt, be an enormous help. It paints a fascinating, lively picture of the wines and how they are made. In my friend Nico Manessis, a native of Greece, a great traveller and a citizen of the world, today’s Greek wine industry has found its Hermes, bearer of Dionysos’ good news.’ – Aubert de Villaine
‘A tour de force’ – Michael Broadbent, on The Greek Wine Guide (1996)
‘Fascinating stuff…too many new wineries to visit in Greece. Thank you as always for doing the yeoman’s work with the knowledge and professionalism that is otherwise absent in the broader discussion of Greek wine’ – Dionysios Grevenitis
am a member of the Academie Internationale du Vin (AIV). Founded in 1971, the AIV has 122 members from 15 nations and acts as the wine conscience of the world. I was admitted to the AIV in 1999 and in 2006 was promoted to the highest rank of membres titulaires. For more information visit: www.academievin.com.