14 November 2017

 [Working journal while I continue to obsessively assemble a project of dubious interest & limited appeal. PreviouslyPreviously. Previously.]


[Link to Levi’s post]

Here’s another one that makes me happy: Hatzidakis assyrtiko from Santorini. I got to serve Haridimos once at Rouge a year or so ago. I didn’t really know him, of course, but he and his wines are iconic. He’d just finished his new cellar in 2016. It was a shock when passed away in August. He was just 50.

Santorini was rebaptized as such by some Crusaders in honor of Saint Irine, a Persian princess who, among other things, raised her father from the dead, survived being thrown into a pit of snakes, blinded an army through prayer, etc, etc. She is also the patron saint of Greek policemen.

Its official name, however, is Thera, after Theras, Spartan king who by tradition founded a city on the island in the 12th century BCE, and a name so old I can’t find an etymology for it. Before that it was Kallisti, “Most Beautiful”, and before that, like four thousand years ago, it was Strogligi, “The Round One”. Back then it had yet to have a hole punched through it by the massive volcanic eruption that some people like to allege caused the collapse of the Minoan civilization, and now it does not look round. As a sommelier, I don’t have a strong professional opinion to offer about the Minoan collapse.

Anyway, the eruption was not good for the Minoan cities on Santorini, that’s for sure, with their multistory buildings, unique writing system, matriarchal goddesses, and running water.

Assyrtiko, the grape of Haridimos’ wines, also does not have a satisfactory etymology I can find (some people say that it comes from ‘Assyrian’, but that makes zero sense; it was almost certainly born on the island). The low pH of the volcanic soils help it hold on to a breathtaking amount of acid, even though it can get really, really ripe—14% ABV is not uncommon—and the soils, plus islands being islands, mean that phylloxera never got here. The wind that comes off the ocean is crazy and traditionally the vines are trained around, wreath-like, with the grape bunches on the inside of the basket, hugging the ground. The winds have names.

Hardimos’ family name, finally, comes from hatzi, a Greek rendering of hajji, which is of course used by Muslims who have completed the Hajj to Mecca. It was also subsequently taken up by Balkan Christians under Ottoman rule to refer to those who had made the journey to Jerusalem and been baptized in the River Jordan. It’s integrated into family names in Cyprus, particularly.

Hatzidakis: He Has Seen the Holy Land.

It’s a little thing, but it made me happy to write.

2 Responses to “Hatzidakis”

  1. Jullianne Says:

    I absolutely love what you’re writing. Sharing with friends and family making wine in central Texas.

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