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Nikolaihof Riesling Steiner Hund Reserve 2013

Nikolaihof Riesling Steiner Hund Reserve 2013

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"Bottled in June 2016, this texturally silken, supremely elegant effort transparently and kaleidoscopically combines moss, wet stone, gentian, buddleia, coriander, pepper, piquant yet rich nut oils and a saline clam broth savor that milks the salivary glands. But besides this impressive array of non-fruity components, white peach and lemon deliver abundant primary juiciness and animating tang, rendering the finish as invigorating and refreshing as it is vibrant, mouthwatering and dynamically complex. Given all of the experience we now have with Austrian Riesling and Grüner Veltliner of this vintage, high hopes were bound to have been riding on the latest edition of Steiner Hund. Happily, they have not been disappointed! (And in another decade or two, we can look forward to the bottling and release of at least one 2013 installment in the Nikolaihof’s Vinothek collection.) Drinking window: 2017-2030. 97 points

As usual, my latest notes from the Nikolaihof cover recent releases that include wines from numerous vintages. Since I am only rarely offered the opportunity (virtually nobody is at this address) of tasting a sample from cask, it is never possible to get the complete perspective on a given Nikolaihof vintage until 18 months or so after harvest, by which point two Smaragd wines will have been bottled and will join the estate’s early offerings. Even then, you have to wait for the third year to taste the iconic Riesling Steiner Hund (not to mention that bottling can be delayed 15 or 20 years for the occasional “Vinothek” bottling). What’s more, the unique, perhaps literally inimitable style of Nikolaihof wines, coupled with this estate’s relatively laissez-faire cellar approach and staunch, longtime adherence to biodynamic practices, frequently make for collections that are out of step – often deliciously so – with overall vintage tendencies. Having revisited several Nikolaihof 2014s, and tasted their 2014 Grüner Veltliner Im Weingebirge reviewed below, I’d say the estate rendered a very good collection but did not turn in one of that vintage’s outstanding performances. We won’t know how 2014 Riesling Steiner Hund turned out until sometime next year, but since Nikki Saahs reports that due to current limitations on cellar space, some excellent candidates for Library releases are likely to get bottled early, I suspect that nothing from 2014 will have been slated for extremely extended cask maturation. Here’s hoping, though, that he can find room for setting aside some 2015s, because early indications clearly are that this is an exceptional vintage at the Nikolaihof. “Our vines held up well during the summer drought and heat,” reported Saahs, “but nevertheless they merely marked time,” which he suggests explains why the harvest began relatively late by estate standards, namely not until September 25. The aromatic duo of Muskateller and Gewurztraminer – picked in the first days – are unusually juicy and irresistible; the Neuburger is classic; and the ostensibly lesser Grüner Veltliner and Riesling bottlings aren’t lacking for their usual buoyancy and nuanced mineral, floral, and herbal details, even though they display unusually forward fruitiness. "

David Schildknecht, Vinous (02/17)