There are two local varieties dominating the vineyard of Lemnos: a white one, Muscat of Alexandria and a red one, Limnio or Kalampaki (name applied for use on the island only).
Muscat of Alexandria
Muscat of Alexandria actually dominates the vineyard of Lemnos. The cultivation of this variety is widely spread, mainly around the Mediterranean.
Muscat of Alexandria was introduced in Lemnos in the beginning of the 20th century from Egypt. Because of its origin, it has also been called Egleziko (English), Alexandrino (from Alexandria) or Zibbibo. Muscat of Alexandria gradually replaced the local red variety, Limnio, which used to be the main variety to be cultivated until then.
It is quite a productive variety that gives PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) wines in Lemnos, more specifically PDO Lemnos (dry wines) and PDO Muscat of Lemnos (sweet wines). Lately, there have also been some very interesting sparkling wines, either semi-dry or semi-sweet, produced from Muscat of Alexandria.
Muscat of Alexandria is cultivated in Lemnos not only for wine-making purposes, but also for the production of raisins. As a result, visitors may take the chance to discover the aromas of the variety in more possible ways.
Dry whites made from Muscat of Alexandria are usually of medium acidity and consumed rather fresh. Sweet wines of Muscat of Alexandria are usually of medium acidity and occasionally aged in barrels.
Limnio or Kalambaki
Limnio or Kalambaki, as referred to exclusively in Lemnos, is supposed to be the oldest Greek wine variety, since there are many references to that by ancient Greek writers. There is some evidence that it was one of the favourite varieties of Aristotle, who refers to it as “Lemnian Vine”. There are other writers that mention this old variety in their works as well, such as Hesiod and Polydeuces who calls the variety “Lemnian grape”. It is also quite likely that when Homer narrates how the Aecheans in Troy got their wine from Lemnos, what he actually refers to is the specific variety.
The cultivation of Limnio in Lemnos was restricted once the cultivation of Muscat of Alexandria was introduced to Lemnos. However, there seems to have been a revival of this ancient variety during the last two decades and as a result, since 2011, PDO Lemnos also include local wines made of 100% Limnio.
Limnio is a variety of medium productivity which requires intensive cultivating treatment. This might have been the reason why its cultivation was reduced in the past. Nevertheless, by means of the appropriate procedures, it can provide remarkable red wines. Besides the PDO dry red wines made exclusively of Limnio, several other blends of the variety are made, with international ones, mainly, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, not to mention the interesting rose wines, where Limnio is usually blended with Muscat of Alexandria.
Limnio is also cultivated in vineyards of Northern Greece, but the wines it gives have different organoleptic attributes (aromas, flavor).
Apart from Muscat of Alexandria and Limnio, several Greek varieties are cultivated in Lemnos, such as Mandilaria, Fokiano, and Assyrtiko.