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 This Article Contains



People |

Nicholas Saahs

Nicholas Saahs

Focus |

These are wines of the earth. They allow nature to take its course, intervene with as little as possible and allow the wines plenty of time to develop. 

Country |


​​Map of Austrian Wine

Region |


Map of the Wachau

Village |


Map of the danube

Climate |

Cool Continental

  • Defined as very cold winters, hot, short, fairly rainy summers, with long, cool, dry autumns.
  • Now: winters are usually not as cold, summers are much hotter, drought is a serious problem 4 or the last 5 years, autumns start later and are often much wetter than they used to be.
  • Wachau is cooled by air coming down from the forest and along the Danube valley from the west. But warmth comes in from hot eastern gusts, which start to lose their power as they head down the valley. 
  • The Danube also acts as an HVAC, keeping temperatures along its bank more steady than elsewhere, with reflection from the river helping ripen fruit more.
  • There is a big diurnal shift (difference between day and night temperatures) starting in the fall. This extends the growing season and gives Austrian wines their signature balance of freshness and ripeness, opulence and grace.
  • Cool climate wines are high in acid, low in alcohol, light in body, and often show a lot of mineral flavors rather than fruit.
  • Usually white wines are made, but some light reds, like Pinot Noir can also ripen well.
  • Warmer vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2015 produce wines with lower acidity, higher alcohols, and richer fruit flavors.
  • Cooler vintages: 2021, 2013, 2010, 2008 produce what are now considered “classic” cool-climate wines.
Climate in the Wachau

Vineyards |

  • Im Weingebirge: The oldest named vineyard site in Europe, the soil is varied with loess on the higher terraces and deep topsoil over primary rock lower down the slope.
  • Vom Stein: Vom Stein is a sub-site of the Silberbichel vineyard. The soils are gneiss with mica inclusions; there is a layer of loess and topsoil.
  • Steiner Hund: Primary rock with river pebbles, very stony, just outside of the Wachau borders hence the labeling of “Reserve” and not Smaragd.

Terraced vineyards

Grape Varieties |

  • Grüner Veltliner: 
    • A true Austrian treasure. Grüner is rarely planted outside of its home country, but is revered the world over. 
    • Mainly grown in the Lower Austrian region (Niederösterreich) with some vines in northernmost Burgenland, it holds 30% of the country’s vineyard area. 
    • Grüner is dynamic making it known for easily quaffable fresh and fruity wines. But, it just as easily becomes Austria’s most famous long-lived, mineral-laden beauties and some delicious sekt (wine made with bubbles). 
    • Wines from Grüner Veltliner have continuously taken top marks in blind tastings against Chardonnay from Burgundy and California, displaying a richness and concentration sans the oak barrels its competitors rely on. 
    • Its flavors range from stone fruit, fresh pear, lemon, green herbs, arugula, and spicy white or black pepper. The best versions can age for decades and develop complex notes of honey, toast, chutney and wax.

Gruner grapes

  • Riesling
    • The King of White Grapes
    • You’ll find it on the peaks of high, rocky, steep vineyards in the Wachau, Kamptal and Kremstal.
    • What they lack in vineyard area, these wines make up for in pure, clear, undeniable quality. 
    • The best examples show the beauty that can come from a perfect marriage: these wines bring the acidity of the Mosel, matched with the density of Alsacian Grand Crus, but are always dry and ready to age for decades. 
    • They often benefit from 5-10 years of bottle age, but your patience is greatly rewarded with a kaleidoscope of flavors and textures. 
    • Fruits span the rainbow depending on the site, style and vintage, from green melon, lime and herbs, yellow peaches and lemons, orange zest and marmalade, pink grapefruit, even a touch of cherry on occasion. But the real beauty lies in the non-fruit notes. Especially with age, you can get stony minerality, petrol, honey, toast, salt, marzipan and so much more.

Riesling Grapes

  • Pinot Blanc / Weissburgunder
    • the secret weapon Austrian whites. 
    • It was brought over with the Cisterian monks in the 10th century and is grown in small pockets in all the wine regions. 
    • Similar to Chardonnay, but with softer flavors and acidity. 
    • Makes great simple quaffing wines. But grown in the best plots it makes some of the most surprisingly concentrated and long lived wines in the country. 
    • It’s not exported often so bottles are hard to find outside of Austria, but not to be missed if you can lay your hands on one.

Pinot Blanc grapes

  • Chardonnay 
    • Another grape brought over by the Cistercian monks so it’s had a long time to make a home for itself. 
    • Grown across the country, it is made in styles that range from light, unoaked, and Chablisienne to big, broad and toasty. 
    • There are some beautiful examples, Burgenland, Vienna, Lower Austria and especially the Steiermark.
  • Muskateller / Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains 
    • Muskateller is the most sought after variety from the large, ancient family of the muscat grapes. 
    • Most other countries make some version of sweet wine from it, the most famous being Vendange Tardive in Alsace. But Austria makes the best dry versions with great examples from most reputable producers. 
    • The overtly floral bouquet is tempered by its light body and bright acidity, making it a refreshing option on a hot summer day.
  • Neuberger
    • An indigenous variety
    • Highly sensitive to temperature and soil types, as well as, unfortunately, disease. 
    • Produces delicious wines that are spicy and floral with nutty notes after just a few years of age. 

Farming |


  • Stalwarts of the process.
  • Practicing since 1971, one of the very first wineries in the world
  • Diverse agriculture: fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs
  • Bee program

Natural farming

Cellar Work |


  • Natural fermentations are the rule, 
  • Fermented and aged in old Austrian oak vessels
  • 700-year-old, deep, cold cellar. 
  • Long lees contact and aging are the norms
  • Some wines age as long as 15 years before being bottled.

In the cellar

About the winery |

Nikolaihof is one of the oldest winemaking estates in the world, dating back two millennia, give or take a couple of decades. The foundations are relics of a 63 BCE Roman fort, their cellars are ancient (Roman ruins converted to a church crypt), and in more modern terms, the estate has farmed biodynamically since 1971, making it one of the world’s oldest biodynamic wineries.

But what about the wine that comes from this historical vineyard? Even though the vines themselves aren’t ancient, they are incredibly special, grown on uniquely Wachau soils (clay, loess and paragneiss, a rock type forged by hundreds of thousands of years of pressure and heat).

Nikolaihof is an exception to a rule we’ve reiterated dozens of times: wine is made in the vineyard. Because even though they possess incredibly valuable, irreplaceable treasure in their terroir, they employ a number of fascinating practices in the cellar. Wine is aged in massive, old wooden vats for a year, or two, or five, or ten...the cellars at Nikolaihof are a true laboratory, and each vintage treated like an opportunity to tweak this technique, or that.

Now run by Nikko Saahs and his wife Anna along with his parents. They have a diverse polycultural operation along with beauty care, an inn and a fantastic restaurant. The Saahs have only been in charge for 129 years, so for them this is about stewardship. They cherish the land they farm, the 700 year old cellar they inherited and the legacy 2,000 years in the making.

What do the wines taste like?

They show a purity of fruit, the complexity of terroir and the technical mastery of the winemakers. These are terrifically minerally wines which swerve between delicate finesse and assertiveness with every sip.

Wines on Offer |

Nikolaihof, Gelber Muskateller, 2021 $44.99 $39.59


Nikolaihof, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, 2021 $39.99 $35.19

Nikolaihof, Grüner Veltliner Federspiel, 2021 (1.5L) $97.99 $86.23


Nikolaihof, Grüner Veltliner Hefeabzug, 2021 $30.99 $27.27


Nikolaihof, Grüner Veltliner Im Weingebirge Smaragd, 2019 $77.99 $68.63


Nikolaihof, Grüner Veltliner Steinterrassen, 2012 $98.99 $87.11


Nikolaihof, Grüner Veltliner Zwickl, 2021 $30.99 $27.27


Nikolaihof, Neuburger, 2021 $41.99 $36.95

Nikolaihof, Riesling Fass Severin Vinothek, 1997 $200.00 $176.00

Nikolaihof, Riesling Fass Severin Vinothek, 1997 (1.5L) $520.00 $457.60

The 1997 Riesling Vinothek Severin Fass was aged for 25 years in a large, traditional oak cask (filtered, though not on the lees) and opens with an intense yet pure, fresh and spicy, finely oaky bouquet with a deep, mineral tone of crushed stones. On the palate, this is a very intense and complex Riesling slowly building up and revealing great finesse and balanced juiciness. The wine develops a sustainable, aromatic and structured finish with great finesse, lingering salinity and fine tannin grip. A fabulous, intense and elegant Riesling that is incredibly young in terms of freshness but ageless and immortal by its structure and fruit intensity. Natural cork. Tasted in June 2022. 96+” — Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate


Nikolaihof, Riesling Federspiel, 2021 $44.99 $39.59

Nikolaihof, Riesling Federspiel, 2021 (1.5L) $129.99 $114.39


Nikolaihof, Riesling Late Bottled Federspiel, 2016 $52.99 $46.63

At 12.2% alcohol, this weighs marginally (and surprisingly) higher than did its 2015 counterpart. But you'd never guess that from the bouyancy it exhibits. Its sunny disposition, infectious juiciness and invigorating pungency - all reflecting an aromatically penetrating abundance of sage-laced lemon, orange and apricot that puts me in a bit in mind of muscat - make for a memorably delightful performance. Alkaline shimmeringly stony and mouthwateringly saline notes as well as a tang of white currant add to the irresistable appeal of a brightly and pungently sustained finish. The feel here is subtly silky, but this vibrant budle of energy and paradigm of clarity appears to be the exception among Nikolaihof 2016s for having resisted malolactic transformation. Count this among the most memorable in the long line of memorable Nikolaihof Rieslng Federspeiele and pray that even allowing for a second bottling slated for late 2017 or 2018, and despite and increasingly crowded cellar, enough will remain in cask to support and eventual Steinreisler"" bottling. 94pts" — David Schildknecht, Vinous Media


Nikolaihof, Riesling Steiner Hund, 2017 $84.99 $74.79


Nikolaihof, Riesling Vinothek, 2002 $200.00 $176.00

From the Weingebirge and bottled in July 2018 after 16 years in oak, the 2002 Riesling Vinothek is deep and complex on the elegant and spicy nose that doesn't reveal any classic Riesling aromas but rather the coolish vintage (flood vintage"") and the long elevage in a traditional 60-hectoliter foudre. Crystalline and refined on the palate, this is an elegant, highly complex and vital yet still firm and initially even tannic and astringent wine that needs lots of patience. 12.5% alcohol. Tasted at the domaine in June 2021. 94+?" — Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate


Nikolaihof, Riesling Vom Stein Smaragd, 2017 $73.99 $65.11
Nikolaihof, Riesling Vom Stein Smaragd, 2017 (1.5L)
$159.99 $140.79

The Mautern 2017 Riesling Ried Vom Stein Smaragd offers a pure, refined and finely oxidative bouquet of bright, ripe fruits intermingled with smoky and saline terroir notes as well as some delicate oak. Round and intense on the palate, with fine, playful and persistently saline acidity, this is a full-bodied, dense and very elegant Riesling with striking intensity and finesse. 12.5% stated alcohol. Natural cork. Tasted in October 2022. 94 pts” — Stephan Reinhardt, The Wine Advocate


Nikolaihof, Riesling Vom Stein Smaragd, 2019 $79.99 $70.39