Exploring Limnio, a 3000-Year-Old Grape Variety

Indigenous to the Aegean island of Limnos this vibrant grape variety produces some of Greece's most outstanding wines.


References to the grape variety Limnio can be found in the works of ancient Greek writers such as Homer, Hesiod and Julius Pollux. These texts indicate that people have been cultivating this particular red grape for more than three millennia. Today, having escaped from the narrow confines of its original home on the island of Limnos, the variety has proven that it can produce wines expressing the finesse and depth that modern Greek winemaking is capable of achieving. Limnio is a vibrant variety which produces its best results when cultivated in arid and nutrient-deficient rocky soil.

What does a typical Limnio taste like? Its aromas are elegant, reminiscent of fresh red forest berries and aromatic herbs. It is moderately acidic and has moderate silky tannins and a relatively high alcohol content. On Limnos, it is called Kalampaki because it can be cultivated in very arid regions, such as on hilltops which, in the local dialect, are called “kalampakia.” Limnio can also be found in vineyards of northern Greece, mainly on the peninsula of Sithonia in Halkidiki, in the region of Mt Athos and in the village of Maroneia in Thrace.

 

“I was surprised at how beautifully Limnio ages if it is vinified correctly,” said Stavroula Liapi at the end of a recent Limnio wine tasting. Vasilis Galanos noted that “Modern vinification techniques have managed to moderate its tendency to produce wines with a high alcohol content.” According to Alexandros Bouzikas, “Its elegance and clear fruity notes are perhaps the variety’s most interesting characteristics that have only been recently explored.” Dimitris Motsos added that “Limnio could deliver wines that are considered ideal for those who are looking for fruity and distinct aromas, with velvety tannins,” and Kiriaki Panaghiotou maintained that “Limnio has the incomparable luxury of a captivating story that goes back thousands of years, which very few grape varieties in the world have, a fact that could help it gain further popularity.” 

Limnio Red 2018, Vourvoukeli Estate, PGI Avdira, 13% ABV (approx. €19)

Distinct aromas of berries and cherries, with delicate notes of violet. The vanilla and sweet spices accentuate the balanced presence of the barrel. Long aftertaste. It pairs beautifully with sautéed squab, roast carrots and berry-based sauces. S.K. 

BIO Limnos Organic Red Wine 2022, PDO Limnos, 13% ABV (approx. €7.90)

Inviting aromas of red fruits and apple with notes of herbs and sweet spices. Soft, fine-grained tannins that engulf the fruit. An exceptionally balanced wine with a long multi-layered aftertaste. This wine goes well with savory winter pies, including zucchini and onion pies. V.G. 

Limnio Kikones 2008, PGI Ismaros, 14% ABV (approx. €27)

 

Aromas of ripe red and black fruits, with notes of spices and nuts, such as cocoa and hazelnut. Its fine texture, velvety tannins, intense fruity taste and refreshing acidity create a perfect balance. It goes wonderfully with stuffed turkey, wild boar ragout, dried fruits and chestnuts. S.L 

Limnio 2022, Aslanis Family Winery, PGI Macedonia, 12.5% ABV (approx. €16.80)

Intense aromas of berries, cherries and plums, with high acidity and soft tannins. Balanced structure, with a long, rich aftertaste. It is ideal with veal carpaccio with freshly grated truffle and extra virgin olive oil. S.K. 

Limnia Gi, Petros Chatzigeorgiou, PDO Limnos, 14% ABV (approx. €9.40)

Ripe red fruits with a pleasant eucalyptus undertone. Its refreshing acidity gives it an equally refreshing mouthfeel. Enjoy it with bruschetta topped with goat’s cheese, or with veal ragout with onions. A.M. 

Limnio 2019, Anatolikos Vineyards, PGI Avdira, 13.5% ABV (approx. €22)

Ripe red fruits and dried plums with a note of spices, chocolate and nuts. A complex, well-structured wine with a long aftertaste. The wine goes well with slow-cooked wild boar with winter vegetables. L.M. 

Limnio 2020, Domaine Porto Carras, PGI Halkidiki, 13.5% ABV (approx. €13.50)

Delicate aromas of fresh red fruits, such as cherries and raspberries, with a mineral undertone. Rich fruity mouthfeel, high in ripe tannins and with a long, pleasant aftertaste. It pairs wonderfully with roast kid goat with rice and aromatic herbs. V.G. 

Familiar Maya 2022, PGI Macedonia, 12.5% ABV (approx. €38)

Intense black fruits, with notes of hot spices and leather. The high acidity and relatively strong tannins give it a heavy but refreshing mouthfeel. It blends well with stuffed spicy eggplant with cheese topped with an aromatic cream sauce. S.L. 

Ekho Red 2020, 13% ABV (approx. €22.50)

With intense herbal aromas and a well-defined structure, this wine expresses a different style of the variety. It is exceptional with braised pork cooked with quince, apples or sweet spices. L.M. 

Agrovision Limnio 2022, 14% ABV (approx. €16)

Aromas of gardenias and black fruits, which balance well with the alcohol, with chocolate undertones and a strong tannin mouthfeel. It is best appreciated with yellow cheeses, such as kefalotyri or kariki from the island of Tinos. K.P. 

Limnio 2020, Garalis Winery, PDO Limnos, 13% ABV (approx. €15)

 

Aromas reminiscent of dried herbs and blackberry and plum marmalade. As this wine is particularly dry with strong tannins, it is a perfect choice with hunkar begendi (a meat and eggplant purée dish). S.K. 

Limnio 2020, Romalidis Estate, PGI Serres, 13% ABV (approx. €14)

Notes of red fruits, such as pomegranate and plum, and of herbs, such as thyme and laurel, merge beautifully with the wine’s strong tannins and high acidity. This wine goes well with rooster braised in wine and served with flomaria, a local Limnos pasta. S.L. 

Mylopotamos Epifanis 2019, PGI Mount Athos, 14.5% ABV (approx. €19.50)

Ripe black fruits with vanilla, mushroom and leather undertones. A robust palate with a strong herbal character. It pairs exquisitely with cuts of pork cooked in a tomato sauce with Florina peppers. K.P. 

Tatsis Limnio 2020, PGI Macedonia, 13.5% ABV (approx. €16.80)

Aromatic with intense herbal notes, this wine may represent Limnio’s most colorful expression. It complements the rich notes of goat’s cheese or soft French cheeses made from cow’s milk, such as Époisses and Munster. A.M.

The wine tasters

S.K. Stefanos Kogias, DipWSET, Wine Journalist

K.P. Kiki Panaghiotou, Digital Storyteller

 

S.L. Stavroula Liapi, Oenologist

A.M. Alexandros Bouzikas, Certified Advanced Sommelier

V.G. Vasilis Galanos, Journalist, Taste and Wine Consultant

D.M. Dimitris Motsos, DipWSET, Marketing Manager Argyros Estate



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