With remorse and regret Nico Manessis looks back on the gifted wizard of Santorini.
We all react differently to death it hit me a few days afterwards. In 2017 Haridimos Hatzidakis was still the same kind soul I first met two decades before. He remained shy and humble all his life. Antonis Elefhterakis brilliant photo was taken at the Art Space distillery. It captures HH in one of his pensive silences. Despite it’s somber tone it brings back happy memories. Everyone brought something to share. Jacket potatoes were slowly baked. The evening was marked by repartee as we nibbled and sipped the previous year’s tsikoudia the clear grape spirit. Truth is one never knew what Haridimos was up to. At one stage as he filled the pot still with a new batch of pomace he pulled out of a bag a bottle of cask drawn Vinsanto and poured it in. Some firewater: no wonder we all marveled at the compelling aroma and luxurious texture. He was also patient, sticking stubbornly to his vision of what he wanted to achieve on Santorini. His accomplishments were numerous. Amongst them the vision to first bottle single vineyards. He dared to take risks with organic farming and natural wines. His Santorini 2016 and last vintage was bottled unfiltered and will reward those who are patient. Another of his first was to explore as a dry table wine Mavrotragano and the lesser known Voudomato (Ox eye) in a dessert style. Towering above all the lovely wines he crafted(and there were many)is the Nykteri 2006. He shared this during an informal tasting when he brought Santorini’s farmers and chefs together to celebrate a decade (1999-2009) of his investigation in this historic style. This will remain a highlight, a treasured event. We discussed this ethereal wine before he left us: in his usual sparse manner he described it as ‘Magiko’ (Magic). His expressive pale blue eyes were full of life…he seemed at peace. I still see him as the Cretan boy riding his beloved trial bike whizzing round Pyrgos heading out to his new cellar with his face in the wind, free.
Haridimos, thank you for indulging us with your magic.