Nikolaihof Riesling Vinothek 2000


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“Here is another Nikolaihof offering that I was given a rare opportunity to taste prior to bottling. But perhaps the Saahs family will rethink their generosity with sneak previews, given that I now feel compelled to publish a substantially updated tasting note to reflect the significantly more impressive showing delivered by this wine a year after its late summer 2016 bottling. As before, the nose is head-turningly complex, offering black tea and Latakia tobacco smokiness, coriander-seed pungency, high-toned pistachio extract, intimations of red currant, lime and white peach and a remarkable array of mineral and animal intimations: sea breeze, sweat, wet stone, oyster liquor and mussel stock. What I earlier described as a “silken and expansive yet buoyant palate” has taken on an almost custardy richness. Yet the accompanying juicy brightness of fruit ~ now including a tang of fresh ripe tomato – has by no means diminished in animation, intensity or sheer refreshment. The vibrant finish tugs at one’s salivary glands with suggestions of urchin roe and shellfish stock while delivering a kaleidoscope of herbal, mineral and fruity diversity. Drinking window: 2018-2026. 97 points

Nikki Saahs commenced the 2016 harvest in mid-September, which no longer counts as unusually early for this estate. Picking followed the usual progression of Grüner Veltliner before Riesling, and was finished up a month later. A striking aspect of the 2016 collection here is that the wines underwent malolactic transformation almost across the board, whereas usually incidences of malo at this address are merely sporadic. This hasn’t resulted in anything I would deem a deficiency, but it has occasionally made for a softer-than-usual overall impression, most notable in wines picked early at lower potential alcohol and thus likely reflecting a higher ratio of malic acid in the incoming must. Of course, as usual, the ostensibly top Grüner Veltliner and Riesling will only be released later, so an assessment of 2016 at this address must for now remain very tentative. Speaking of which, Saahs has decided to start giving his Grüner Veltliner Smaragd two-and-a-half years in cask, an approach long taken with the comparable Rieslings. For that reason, although I reviewed the 2014 Smaragd Im Weingebirge as part of my previous report, a review of the 2015 will not appear until my next report. “If I encounter a really difficult or short vintage,” he Saahs said, “I can always move back up the release date for a portion of my Grüner Veltliner Smaragd.”

At the time when the first Nikolaihof vintage 2016 wines were being released, the most exciting new offerings were the increasingly impressive Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Im Weingebirge and the initial offerings of Vom Stein Smaragd and Steiner Hund Rieslings of vintage 2014, all of which I describe in detail below. It’s perhaps worth mentioning, given the generally exemplary quality of Nikolaihof wines, that, as usual, not every one of them presented to me proved sufficiently impressive to result in a tasting note. Specifically, I found the latest renditions of a Zweigelt-based Brut Rosé (vintage 2014) and the Pinot Blanc known as “Elizabeth Tradition” (on this occasion, vintage 2015) no more persuasive than I have their predecessors.”

David Schildknect, Vinous (12/18)