Nikolaihof is the oldest wine estate in Austria dating back two thousand years. Its history is well documented due to the significance of the site. Originally established as a fort by the Romans in 63 BC, the current buildings stand on these original foundations and the cellar itself is constructed in a Roman crypt. At one stage it was an early Christian Agapit basilica with documentation of a synod in 985 AD. In 1075 it was recorded as the administrative seat of the Passau monastery of St Nikola. The present chapel was established by canons of the monastery in the 15th century.
Wine I said to have been produced here since the time of the Celts with the first documentary reference to wine being from 470AD.
Today this historic estate is owned and run by the Saahs family, who are natural custodians of its unique heritage.
Nikolaus and Christine Saahs have run the Nikolaihof estate on strict bio-dynamic principles since the 1970’s and it was one of Europe’s earliest certified bio-dynamic wineries. They also practice what they preach and even the more esoteric elements of bio-dynamics seem to fit perfectly with the spiritual history of the estate.
Today the vineyard area totals 20 hectares, predominantly in the Wachau with a small area in neighbouring Kremstal. The soils are decomposed granite, gneiss and mica and many of the sites have old vines. All vineyards are managed according to the phases of the moon and without any chemical fertilisers or biocides (fungicides, herbicides, pesticides). The wines are fermented with natural yeasts without any technical or chemical assistance (including temperature control). After fermentation they remain on their lees, often for long periods, many in meticulously maintained old casks of between 2,000 and 20,000 litres.
The result is some of the greatest white wines I have been privileged to taste. Delicate with strong mineral accents and deep concentration, their low alcohol and crystalline purity is the antithesis of the late picked, high alcohol, high extract styles that are famous from the Wachau today. These are wines that demand your time.