2006 Nikolaihof Riesling Federspiel Vom Stein- Austria, Niederösterreich, Wachau (12/14/2018)
Precise, elegant and understated, the 2006 Vom Stein does not command an audience, it rather encourages contemplation. It’s really more of a springtime wine, when it would fit the new growth and coming warmth. But it’s still delicious in winter, with a combination of citrus, mineral and light honey tones. Nice to see a federspiel over the course of twelve years from the vintage. Wines don’t have to be big to age well.
Very cool tasting note of some reisling with a bit of age! How often do you see that? Not often enough. Nikolaihof is legit — only downside to this note is that it reminds me of how I rifled through vintages prematurly…
nice note! I had the 07 about a month ago and I think you hit it spot on with the contemplative elegant notes. I opened it with a group of 6 and everyone loved it, but its more of a “hmm… yeah thats good.” than a “wow! what a wine!” I really enjoy the ones that make you think.
I was in Austria last month and had dinner at the Nikolaihof tavern. They serve traditional Austrian farmhouse fare with a “healthy twist” that includes a full page of vegetarian options, which is uncommon for the area. The building dates to 15th century and the servers are in dirndls and suits but the vibe is casual and homey.
It was Sunday night, so the place was only half full but there were many large large format bottles on tables. Christine Saahs was working the scene happily, visiting tables to chat and pour alongside the waitstaff, and explained to me that the previous evening had been the Feast of St Martin and they had hosted a dinner of roast goose for 150 family, friends and distributors. I expressed the appropriate (and genuine) regret at having missed the party and she walked me out the door into the courtyard where a table sat covered in large format bottles from the Nikolaihof cellar open from the night before.
She grabbed two to take to my table and invited me to help myself to whatever else I wanted, then headed off to visit with some other guests.
The bottles were 1986 and 1992 Steiner Hund riesling magnums, shown above with apricot dumplings. Dining alone, with these wines on the table, I never felt the need to go back outside. The wines were both great and birds of a feather. Very delicate and subtle without being faded. I find many older whites gain concentration and color over time, but these were wines whose bold colors had receded leaving behind a shaded line drawing of structure and flavors. You can see in the photo that the 1992 had 12% alcohol, a level unmatched by any of the more recent vintages that I encountered in the region.
The 1986 really drew me in. I am grateful for the hospitality and hope some of the Nikolaihof’s in my cellar can make it to this age.
Great read, thanks. I have a single bottle of the 2010 Steiner Hund but really have no idea when to drink it. The early notes were all full of praise but the more recent ones kind of seem to either indicate that the wine is going through a shut down period or that it will not be a long ager.
I have only limited experience with Steiner Hund but the bottles of 2012 that I have opened did not show the youthful exuberance that is common for the region. On that basis, I am holding.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t an opportunity for a discussion of Steiner Hund with the Saahs but I did get a chance to walk through the vineyard the next day. It is unique to the vineyards of the region in that it is sited at a spot where there is a break in the hillside and a narrow valley with a road runs north from the Danube. As a result, it has clear southern and eastern exposures and presumably catches more wind.
I guess to hold is almost always the right option when you have a wine with a strong track record. I find it a bit difficult to assess the CT notes as it is not known whether the tasters have previous experience with the wine or not when they give guesses on the ageing curve. By the way isn’t the vineyard actually located on the other side of the border in the Kremstal region?
Great story, thanks for posting! We drink a decent amount of Austrian Riesling, and my general rule of thumb is not to start before 10 years of age, and preferably 15-20 (2013 may have been the last vintage I buy in any quantity).
I’ve been told about the Nikolaihof restaurant (do they also have an Inn?), and hope to visit there. Would love to hear more about your trip overall, and any recommendations, if you have the time (apologies if you’ve already posted, I’ll do a search).
I haven’t done a travelogue. As much as I enjoy making the trips and reading others’ tales from the road, I always feel that recounting the trips in full would be boring.
The thread drift police are going to take my WB posting license, but here are some quick takes, since you ask:
Th Feast of St Martin is the “end of the season” and many places close for the winter after that. I basically caught the last days of visitation and this limited my options.
The Nikolaihof family runs an inn but it was closing in the middle of my dates so was not an option.
The Brundlmayer family runs an inn and allowed me to stay one night past their closing date. It was great; maybe my best hospitality experience ever. They literally gave me the keys to the place and said lock the door when you leave. The rooms were huge and beautifully decorated. The restaurant there was fantastic and tasted me through the everything they make (12+ bottlings, including some crazy stuff like pinot noir, cab franc/merlot, zweigelt, st laurent, etc etc) then fed me dinner. (Fortunately a short walk to my room.) Pike perch is a popular fish in the area and they did it beautifully.
Alzinger is remodeling their facility but they were kind enough to allow a tasting in the rubble.
Nigl has a really nice restaurant just below a castle ruin. Bertram Nigl is the chef and was carving roast goose for guests in the dining room. It’s fun to traipse up a mountain in the dark after dinner. Back vintages btg all night long.
Schloss Gobelsburg is sited in a stunning rococo manor. I got to spend hours with Eva Moosbrugger’s dad who mixed some hilarious stories about his days selling IBM mainframes behind the iron curtain into the tasting. He’s the guy I want to sit next to at a dinner party.
Bernhard Ott wins 2017. I will be buying these if they ever get distribution into CA (they said they had new distribution for 2019 so there is reason for optimism).
Feuersbrunn (where Ott is) is a funny place and different from the other locations I visited. It looks more like sloping farmland. There’s this road that runs up the slope through the middle of the vineyard and is lined with houses. But it’s a ghost town because what looks like houses are actually cellar facilities for the vineyard owners. It was both cute and eerie and made my think of Disneyland.
Kracher has an open tasting room with tons of vintages and bottlings open. Visiting them is a great education in what they do since the play with so many variables.
I came away with the sense that the the region is having to do a lot of rethinking based on climate change. Ripeness and alcohol levels are up and adaptation is a focus. The Wachau classification scheme (based on ripeness) is increasingly seen as unhelpful.