Nikolaihof Hefeabzug Gruner Veltliner 2015
The main elements of the present-day appearance of Nikolaihof date from the fifteenth century, but everywhere one is constantly bumping into remains of the old Roman fortress. Every age has left its traces behind. Today Christine and Nikolaus Saahs receive their guests at receptions and wine tastings under the restored Gothic vaulting of the deconsecrated chapel.
As Austria’s most prestigious wine growing region, the landscape of the Wachau is—not surprisingly—one of its most dramatic. Millions of years ago, the Danube River chiseled its way through the earth, creating steep terraces of decomposed volcanic and metamorphic rock. Harsh Ice Age winds brought deposits of ancient glacial dust and loess to the terrace’s eastern faces. Today these steep surfaces of nutrient-poor and fast draining soil are home to some of Austria’s very best sites for both Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.
Wachau is small, comprising a mere three percent of Austria’s vine surface and, considering relatively low yields, represents a miniscule proportion of total wine production. Diurnal temperature shifts in Wachau facilitate great balance of sugar and phenolic ripeness in its grapes. At night cold air from the Alps and forests in the northwest displace warm afternoon air, which gets sucked upstream along the Danube.
Its sites are actually so varied and distinct that more emphasis is going into vineyard-designated offerings even despite grape variety. Grüner Veltliner and Riesling are most prominent, but the region produces Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder), Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Zweigelt among other local variants.
Fun to say and delightfully easy to drink, Grüner Veltliner is indigenous to Austria, where it has long maintained its status as the nation’s most important and most planted white grape.
In the Glass
Crisp and refreshing with plenty of lively acidity, Grüner Veltliner is marked by telltale notes of white pepper, citrus, peach, herbs and a bright minerality. While most are fresh and ready to drink early, there are a few styles to be found. Many high caliber single vineyard bottlings can benefit from cellar aging but the straightforward and easily quaffable Grüners often come in one liter size bottles—a convenient size!
Grüner Veltliner is a wonderfully versatile wine. It can pair with just about any lighter fare, from seafood to poultry, or even notoriously difficult vegetables like asparagus and artichokes. Traditional Austrian Weiner Schnitzel is also a perfect match to the acidity and spice in Grüner Veltliner.
About 75% of the world’s Grüner Veltliner comes from Austria but the variety is gaining ground in other countries, namely Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.