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Greek wines from the islands of Lesvos and Limnos June 24, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.

Great summer wines from some of the northern Aegean islands

As Aristotle lay dying, so the story goes, his disciples asked him to anoint a successor. In his gentle way, the philosopher asked for flagons of wine from the Greek islands of Rhodes and Lesbos. He tasted both and said, “Without any disparagement to that from Rhodes, I think the Lesbian wine is most delicate”. And so his pupil from Lesbos won the post.

With this in mind, I gladly accepted an invitation from the owners of the Lesvos shop to taste Lesvos and Limnos wines. Not forgetting the Lesbian ouzo too, which I believe is provably the best in the whole of Greece.

Limnos and Lesvos are two of the northernmost Aegean islands and have a winemaking tradition extending back to ancient times. The island of Limnos, known as the island of Ephaistos, the god of fire, was home to a cultivar called Limni, Aristotle’s favourite, known in modern times as Limni or Kalabaki. As recently as the arrival of phylloxera on the island in 1892, Limnio and other red varieties accounted for semisweet wines of good repute among European travelers.

Replanting on both islands focused on Moschato Alexandrias, a variety not highly regarded generally but which, on low-lying Limnos, produces sweet wines of notable quality and greater profitability for growers. There are currently two commercial producers on Limnos. The local cooperative, representing the bulk of the island’s growers, has been creating a variety of wines from Moschato Alexandrias since 1958. Cash-strapped but inventive, the cooperative also produced a dry red from Limnio and has recently introduced a clever blend of Moschato Alexandrias and Santoriniote Assyrtiko that displays both eminence and backbone.

The near universal low elevation of Limniote vineyards limits the achievement of favourable acid levels. As chemical fertilisers are not used, the producers can guarantee the natural and high quality of Limnian wine.

From the tasting I was impressed by Hadjigeorgiou Estate wines. The company is located in the Karpasia community of the Atsikis Municipality of Limnos. Supervising the culture in their own wine factory, they make wine, maturate and bottle only wines of the highest quality.

The 2005 Limnios Ambelourgos, Limnios Vineyard Cultivator, Hadjigeorgiou Estate, Alcohol Volume13% is a white with white yellow colour and greenish reflections from Moschato of Alexandria which vacillates in the limits of dry and half-dry. It is almost acid straw with a floral bouquet more violet on the nose, figs, peaches and many more summer fruits. A youthful wine whose rich taste yields a long aftertaste, and soft palate with floral notes throughout. Unusual but try this at 10-12 degrC with seafood, tit-bits, mussels and squid, fat fish, pasta and white meat with rich white sauces.

The Kaviro Rose, Limnios Vineyards Hadjigeorgiou Estate, Alcohol Volume 12.5% takes its name from the great goddess of Limnos, who, according to mythology, was the spouse of Ephaistos and the mother of Kavirians. This is the union of the two local varieties of the vigorous Limnios and the aristocratic Moschato of Alexandria. Rosy colour, fruit and aroma of citrus compose the background of the bloomed spring valley of Limnos. Structured and focused on the palate with a refreshing acidity, fruitful and mouthwatering with emphatic herbal finish. Savour this rose at 10-12 degrC with fried red mullet, poultry, pies and salads.

Moschato Limnou, Hadjigeorgiou Estate, Limnos, Alcohol Volume 14.5% is made of extra ripe grapes and following tradition they are spread under the Mediterranean sun and are sun-dried. It is a sweet white distinguished by its golden hues and intense floral aromas of citrus that coexist with the abundant taste of fruit, figs, ripe apricots, honey and raisins. Drink it on its own or with any good-quality blue cheese, fruits with cinnamon or nuts. Excellent.

Some other notable wines are the 2005 Aroma Limnou Union of Viticultural Associations, Alcohol Volume 12.5 %. This VQPRD dry white wine of Limnos is made from biologically grown grapes of Moschato. After maturing in oak barrels, the wine reveals a unique floral aromatic bouquet with a palate reminiscent of roses. Best served at 10 degrC with seafood, barbecued fish, sole and red mullet.

The limited quantity 2006 Proimos, Savoglou and Tsivolas, Limnos from biologically grown grapes, Alcohol Volume 11.2% is fresh, light Moschato, yellow with greenish tint, seductive candied lemon nose, delicate flower blossoms on the background, with a clear fresh palate and approachable with warm, balanced finish, which at 10 degrC is best with seafood or chicken in white or salty sauce.

And finally the 2006 Iphaistias, Savoglou and Tsivolas, Limnos from biologically grown grapes, Alcohol Volume 13.5%. This is an unusual scarlet colour, a combination of Limnio and Cabernet Sauvignon, with lively nose with delicate aromas, spices, pepper and cinnamon blended with forest fruit. Medium bodied, light fruit, herbed and with sweet spice at 18 degrC, this wine is best with roast red meat, pork in particular, medium to hard cheese and pastas with tomato and vegetable sauce.

Summer wines indeed. The Lesvos shop offers an array of products such as selected ouzo, olives, olive oil, which I strongly recommend, Aegean islands’ cheese, honey, jam and marmalades as well as cosmetics.

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