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Nikolaihof Vinothek Riesling 1997

Riesling from Wachau, Austria
  • RP97
  • V97
  • JS95
0% ABV
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4.7 5 Ratings
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4.7 5 Ratings
0% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The Vinothek cuvee is the philosophical apotheoses of the Nikolaihof estate. Though Nikolaihof commonly holds back their wines until they believe the wine has fully developed, the Vinothek cuvee is extreme for even these standards. Harvest in 1997 from the Im Weingebirge site near the village of Mautern, this wine has been solemnly resting in barrel for over 17 years in Nikolaihof’s ancient, Roman-built cellar. This profoundly extended barrel aging along with the inherent distance of it’s vintage creates a singular wine not to be experienced elsewhere.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 97
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Aged for 17 years in a domestic 3,500-liter cask before it was bottled in August 2014, the 1997 Riesling Vinothek is the best part of the regular 1997 Riesling Smaragd Im Weingebirge, which was bottled and marketed in late 1998. The aged Vinothek version offers a fascinatingly clear, bright, deep and multi-layered nose with iodine and ripe as well as intense white-fleshed fruit aromas. Full-bodied, full of finesse and elegant, this dry, transparent and mineral Riesling develops a great intensity, complexity and power on the palate, but never leaves its silky road of purity, finesse and transparency. There is a lot of Spiel and tension here, but the most exciting characteristic trait is the intense and very mineral, almost endless finish. How youthful this wine is! And its further aging potential is still terrific. The wine reminds me of certain sherries, white Riojas and Jura wines, although it is not less oxidative. But it spent a long time in cask and has the freshness, complexity and thrilling taste of those. It's a great, unique and stimulating wine that was bottled with 12.8% of alcohol, 6 grams of residual sugar and 6.5 grams of acidity.
V 97
Vinous
This successor to the almost supernaturally ethereal and haunting 1995 also has to live up to the reputation of a vintage-of-the-half-century. It manages, though! The bouquet is unearthly in its complex amalgam of bittersweetly floral (iris, gentian, buddleia), pungently nutty, subtly smoky (black tea) and elusively mineral (sea breeze, wet stone, faint fusel oil) components. Considering the secondary development signaled on the nose, a surprising intensity of pure white peach, apple and grapefruit emerges sumptuously on the silky palate. The buoyant finish, more tightly clinging and less ethereal than that of the 1995, represents a long, harmoniously undulating interaction of liquid floral perfume, diverse minerality and succulent fresh fruits. I tasted this shortly before its mid-2014 bottling (a rare exception to the Nikolaihof rule against unveiling wines from cask) and did not review that note before tasting seven months later. My first spontaneous word each time was “unearthly.” And happily, my impressions that followed demonstrated that this wine’s amazing personality, including its aromas and textural allure, had made it to bottle scarcely altered. The source vineyard here, incidentally, is the Im Weingebirge whereas the 1995 was from Vom Stein.
JS 95
James Suckling
Wild aromas of dried flowers, petrol, lime, cloves, potpourri and jasmine. It's full bodied with a dense and oily palate and masses of fruit that turn to Sicilian lemons and minerals. It changes all the time. A fabulous and fascinating wine that one needs to spend time with.
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Nikolaihof

Nikolaihof

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Nikolaihof, Wachau, Austria
Image of winery
Nikolaihof is the oldest wine estate in Austria, whose history goes back almost 2000 years to Roman times. A walk round the estate is like a trip back through history.

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.

Riesling

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A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining easily identifiable typicity. This versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Riesling is best known in Germany and Alsace, and is also of great importance in Austria. The variety has also been particularly successful in Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys, New Zealand, Washington, cooler regions of California, and the Finger Lakes region of New York.

In the Glass

Riesling typically produces wine with relatively low alcohol, high acidity, steely minerality and stone fruit, spice, citrus and floral notes. At its ripest, it leans towards juicy peach, nectarine and pineapple, while cooler climes produce Rieslings more redolent of meyer lemon, lime and green apple. With age, Riesling can become truly revelatory, developing unique, complex aromatics, often with a hint of petrol.

Perfect Pairings

Riesling is quite versatile, enjoying the company of sweet-fleshed fish like sole, most Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese (bottlings with some residual sugar and low alcohol are the perfect companions for dishes with substantial spice) and freshly shucked oysters. Sweeter styles work well with fruit-based desserts.

Sommelier Secret

It can be difficult to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling, and German labeling laws do not make things any easier. Look for the world “trocken” to indicate a dry wine, or “halbtrocken” or “feinherb” for off-dry. Some producers will include a helpful sweetness scale on the back label—happily, a growing trend.

SRKANK147_1997 Item# 233952