WEINGUT NIKOLAIHOF WACHAU
TIME STANDS STILL
Nikolaihof is one of the top wine estates in the world. In 2012 it placed a wine on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list and it was mentioned by David Schildkneckt as one of the three estates that thrilled him the most in 2012.
But does it really matter? In a word: NO.
These kinds of accolades for Nikolaihof are not new – they have been happening for a very, very long time. Nikolaihof is one of those places where time literally stands still. It is the oldest wine estate in Austria and it can trace its roots back to Roman times. In fact, they still use their 400-year-old medieval wine press for some of their cuvées.
Nikolaihof was also the first biodynamic estate in the world (yes – even before Nicholas Joly). The current generation of guardians – the Saachs family – have been making ‘biodynamic’ wine there since the mid-1800s, before Steiner coined the term. They are quick to point out that they did not become biodynamic by plan – rather – they could not afford chemicals – so they learned to do without. And they never looked back or answered the chemical peddlers’ phone calls.
The estate is comprised of a terraced vineyard in the Wachau valley in Austria and the estate makes some of the most precise, ethereal and profound Rieslings and white wines in the world. These wines are natural in every sense: no chemicals, no enzymes, no commercial yeasts, etc.
And yet, what really puts paid to everything Nikolaihof stands for are the wines that receive extended aging (up to 15 years) in large oak casks before bottling. These wines are bottled under the Vinothek label and we are proud to be allocated some for this offer; this wine floored us in February and we had just come from an epic Chablis tasting (it’s one of the three producers you are thinking of). It is the 1995 Riesling Vinothek for $143.99 a bottle. Expensive? Sure. But consider how many of the world’s greatest, most age-worthy wines you can drink (with nearly 20 years of bottle age) for less than $150.00. It’s a damn short list.
Here is what David Schildknecht (Wine Advocate) had to say about the 1995 Riesling Vinothek:
Words nearly (! ;-)) failed when faced with their recently-bottled 1995 Riesling Vinothek. Among things that astonished me about this goosebump and saliva-inducing libation from St. Severin’s own legendary Im Weingebirge was that although Nikolaihof wines – including this one – seldom dazzle in aroma, the palate effect in this instance was somehow uncannily akin to an endless floral suffusion and inhalation. And when I say “endless” … well, F. X. Pichler had the chutzpa to name one of his Rieslings “Unendlich” (and it’s a wine whose instantiations have sometimes raised gooseflesh on these arms, too), but this Nikolaihof Riesling stole my sense of time.