The 12.5 meter arm, hewn from a sinlge elm tree, on the 350-year-old press at the Nikolaihof

The Nikolaihof

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“Again, he [Archimedes] used to say, in the Doric speech of Syracuse : “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

- John Tzetzes (Book of Histories : Chiliades)

As the Wachau has been a fulcrum in the history of Western civilization, the vineyards, the cellar, the buildings, and above all, the wines of the Nikolaihof have been key inflection points in the history of Austrian wines.

For the surrounding vineyards, history began over 2000 years ago with Ancient Celtic tribes, before passing to Roman conquerors, and eventually Germanic monks, who documented one of Europe’s first named vineyard sites in 470 A.D., Nikolaihof’s “Im Weingebirge”.  It should come as no surprise that the foundations of Nikolaihof’s buildings and cellars include the remains of an early Christian basilica, as well as an Ancient Roman fort and crypt, which now forms part of the estate’s storied cellar (shown below).

Many a grower and many a wine would struggle under the weight of such a history, but the Saahs family and their wines have upheld their legacy with joy and grace since 1894.

Undoubtedly, much of the health of the vineyards and eventual otherworldly combination of concentration and litheness of the Nikolaihof wines begins in Saahs' approach to their soils. Thanks, in part, to budget constraints in the mid-20th century, the Nikolaihof vineyards have never been conventionally farmed and biodynamic principles have been observed since 1971, while the estate gained Demeter certification in 1998.

The Saahs’ decades-long commitment to those principles has a real and direct impact on the health of their soils, as excessive reliance on conventional herbicides and pesticides can lower the Cationic Exchange Capacity (CEC) of a soil and reduce a vine’s ability to absorb essential elements (shown below).

Expressed through cultivars including, but not limited to, Riesling, Grüner Veltiner, and Gelber Muskateller, the healthy vineyard soils of the Nikolaihof and the resulting wines show vibrant, individual characters, all their own.

A particularity of the Saahs’ traditional approach in the cellar is that their wines will be judiciously kept in large, aged, neutral oak barrels and only bottled and released when they consider that the wines are ready to drink.

Through the fulcrum and lever of historical vineyards and conscientious vineyard practices the Saahs family regularly lifts their wines to world worthy heights. We are delighted to offer a full range of the superb wines from the historical Nikolaihof!

- David Salinas

*** Please join us in welcoming Nikki Saahs for a tasting, this afternoon (8/29, 4-7pm) at Chambers Street Wines!

Nikolaihof 2010 Wachau Riesling Steiner Hund Reserve

The top billing of the Steiner Hund vineyard delivers in spades in this gorgeous 2010 Riesling. The nose is mesmerizing with aromas of limewood, Doyenne du Comice pears, chestnuts, licorice, tarragon, and allspice. The wine floats effortlessly on the palate and is held aloft by a refined minerality that offers notes of Granny Smith and fresh ginger through to a bitter orange finish. A stunning apéritif! - David Salinas

  • white
  • 3 in stock
  • $78.99

  • Biodynamic
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Nikolaihof 2013 Wachau Grüner Veltliner Hefeabzug

Always an affordable treat from an historic estate, this basic Grüner aged on the lees is simply transcendent in 2013. Heady, soft, fresh aromas of mountain meadow and autumn leaves. The lees add some body to crisp but moderate acid, reminiscent of ripe apples. Strikingly pure, ethereal. Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 2013 Wachau Grüner Veltliner Im Weingebirge Federspiel

From the historical Im Weingebirge vineyard, the pale yellow Grüner Veltliner offers a lively nose of pineapples, toasted marshmallows, gooseberries, and green plums. The palate is plush (tropical fruit tones, stone fruits) and poised with a steely minerality underwriting it all. This is lipsmackingly good Grüner!

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 2013 Wachau Riesling Vom Stein Federspiel

From the south-facing, terraced, and stony Vom Stein vineyard in Mautern, the 2013 Riesling Federspiel shows musky aromas of ripe figs, cedar, and anise-spiced pear with a background of peppermint. The palate is refined, ethereal and dry with a singing minerality that crescendos to a salty, tart, and slightly floral finish. Complex and delicious!

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $39.99

Nikolaihof 2012 Wachau Gelber Muskateller

Gelber Muskateller! I'll be honest, I have a little trouble getting on the Muskateller train. They're just not always my cup of tea, but this (along with that from Sepp Muster) are really terrific examples. Not cloying, not aggresively aromatic, just subtle, balanced, fresh and delightful. Gently spiced, mildly exotic, and one of Nikolaihof's prettiest 2012s. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $37.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 2011 Wachau Grüner Veltliner Im Weingebirge Smaragd

This is a mellow, delicate rendition of Im Weingebirge Smaragd, Nikolaihof's flagship Grüner Veltliner. Its diverse elements had plenty of time to coalesce, spending 18 months in large cask. This is the softer, rounder side of Nikolaihof on display at its best, and the genial, plentiful fruit makes this a great wine to enjoy now and over the next few years. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $65.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 2010 Wachau Riesling Vom Stein Smaragd

The best Vom Stein Smaragd in years, and it comes close to reaching the heights that are only normally encountered with Steiner Hund and the Vinhotek bottlings. This is one of those Nikolaihof treasures that's so aromatically compelling that you can almost never bring it to your lips. Once you do, though, the focused, steely, citric nose gives way to a superbly textured, well-defined gem. There's terrific acidity, great mineral definition, and gorgeous length and dimension. A major success from Nikolaihof's vines on the southern side of the Danube. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $71.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 2009 Wachau Riesling Steiner Hund Reserve

Steiner Hund is Nikolaihof's top site, a steep, craggy hill overlooking the Danube that lies just outside of the official border of the Wachau. No one in Austria does richer vintages with more of a sense of delicacy and finesse; upon tasting I could have sworn it was an '08 or a '10. Another beautiful wine from Nikolaihof and another keeper for the cellar. Stunning aromatics, depth, richness but lightness — everything Nikolaihof does best is on display. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $78.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 2008 Wachau Riesling Klausberg Privatreserve

This is as wild a wine from Nikolaihof as you're ever likely to encounter. We'd like to echo Terry Theise's sentiment wherein he apologizes for the price but, having tasted the wine, still can't resist offering it. It's off-dry, but perfectly in balance as it comes from a high acid vintage and a site high up on the slope above the Danube. Aromatically it's just killer, with notes of steel, white flowers, spring herbs, grapefruit and melon. The palate is riveting, with ridiculously high (for the Wachau) mouth-watering acidity. If it weren't for the weight, I'd swear this came from the Saar. Should all Austrian Riesling seek this kind of sweetness/acid balance? We're tempted to say yes but then remember that this is a right place at the right time kind of wine — vintage, harvest conditions and decisions, yeast behavior etc. would all be impossible to replicate and this isn't the kind of wine one can hope to reliably produce year in and year out. We'll have to savor this just this once and grudgingly but happily return to the dry benchmarks we continue to love so much. -jfr

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $108.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 2006 Wachau Riesling Vom Stein Federspiel

This remained on fine lees in 2,000L cask until being bottled in 2013. All from clean fruit with no botrytis, this is an absolute breath of fresh air. Lovely, alluring, and soft, teeming with chamomile and mountain flowers. Some texture on the finish. Exceptionally beautiful. Jonathan Kemp

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $42.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 1997 Wachau Riesling Vinothek

17 years of aging in a large cask, in the ancient Nikolaihof cellars have not been in vain for this world-class Riesling Vinothek. At a recent tasting, this wine was in an absolutely prisitne drinking window. Radiantly golden yellow in color, the nose is discrete put beautifully detailed with floral and stone fruit notes that linger in the mind. The palate is weighty, yet perfectly poised, with a endless stream of minerality that carries notes of white peaches, quince, and cardamom. Although certainly cellar-worthy, this Riesling is simply shinning!

- David Salinas

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $206.99

  • Biodynamic

Nikolaihof 1977 Wachau Nikolauswein 375ml

We recently acquired an old copy of Helmut Romé's excellent German-language tome from 1978, Die großen Weine Österreichs, a valuable resource on Austrian wine that's far superior to anything that has yet been published on the subject in English. Included is a contemporary review of the 1977 Nikolauswein, which we've translated and reprinted below.

"Riesling, Schloß Mautern, Süßenberg (Junge Point), 1977. Nikolauswein, Silberbichl, Eiswein-Auslese 24 KMW (121.5 Oechsle). This noble dessert wine was harvested on December 6, 1977 at a temperature of 17.5 degrees farenheit.
The Riesling bouquet with a delicate peach tone already allows the wine’s true nature to be recognized: the delicate, distinctive Eiswein spice, which continues in taste. A sleek, racy, treasure of a dessert wine, with finely polished aciditythat develops a fascinating, finessed “taste-experience” in interaction with the fine, fruity sweetness. Still young but with a great future. Excellent Risling-Eiswein."

  • Out of Stock
  • white sweet
  • 0 in stock
  • $125.99

  • Biodynamic