Riesling ‘Vinothek’, Nikolaihof

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.

Case Pack:
Bottle Size:
Farming Practice:
Certified Biodynamic
Import Partner:
Terry Theise

Press & Reviews


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.

Christine and Nikolaus Saahs did not want to send their wines into a tasting with peer wines. "Due to their tender structures and extremely low alcohol levels, wines from the Nikolaihof do not benefit from tastings where they stand in competition with more powerful wines. They need time and temperature to unfold their talents in the glass," they explained me and went on: "The best qualities, our Smaragd wines, are bottled only after years of aging in casks, so at the moment we have just Smaragd to show, the 2013 Nikolaihof Im Weingebirge Grüner Veltliner."
I accepted their point, although there is no Smaragd that I tasted at Domäne Wachau that would not have benefited from "more time and temperature." However, my schedule was too narrow to visit the Nikolaihof, so the Saahs family sent me their current releases, including Federspiele to my home office where I tasted the wines with the same patience I gave all the others. The current rage of Nikolaihof wines is excellent and includes two highlights, the 1997 Riesling Vinothek and the 2005 Trockenbeerenauslese. Also the Federspiel category is outstanding, even though all the wines would benefit from further bottle age, as the still young 2006 Riesling Federspiel Vom Stein demonstrates.

Vinous Media

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. –David Schildknecht