Nikolaihof is one of the oldest wine estates in Austria, with a history that goes back almost 2,000 years to the Roman Empire. Originally chosen by the Romans because it was considered a Celtic holy site prior to 800 B.C., the foundations of the current house date to a Roman tower which existed as early as 63 B.C. Wine has been produced here since the time of the Celts and continued throughout the time of the Romans. Germanic monks obtained the estate during the collapse of Rome, and the first written evidence of winemaking comes from 470 A.D. This writing documented the monk’s ownership of the vineyard Im Weingebirge, the earliest named vineyard site in all of Europe.
In 1894 the Saahs family acquired Nikolaihof and carried on the traditions the monks had established here. Integrated farming continued, and even as winemaking and grape growing took a larger role at Nikolaihof in the 1960s, chemicals were never used in farming. Essentially this estate has always been organic. Nicholas Saahs and his wife Christine took over the estate in the late 1960s, and Christine instigated the conversion to biodynamic farming. Nikolaihof has been practicing biodynamics since 1971, making it one of the longest-practicing biodynamic wineries in the world. Nikoliahof became Demeter-certified biodynamic in 1998. The average age of the vines at the estate is 47 years old, and the vineyards are farmed without herbicides, pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or synthetic sprays. As of 2005, Nikolaus Saahs, Christine and Nicholas’s son, has taken over winemaking and operations at this historic winery.
The 2020 Grüner Veltliner “Hefeabzug” is outstanding. The term “Hefeabzug” tells us the wine was aged on its lees, as one would find in the wines of Champagne or Muscadet, adding body and texture. Ample notes of green apple skin, lime, herbs, and white pepper are met with refreshing acidity and minerality, giving way to a long, delicious finish. Perfectly enjoyable on its own, but it would also do well next to roasted asparagus, grilled salmon, or a fried chicken sandwich.
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