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Woman on the Verge of a Glass of Wine

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If I had a Nikolaihof For Every Time I....

Believe it or not, tasting wine on a regular basis is hard work. I know it sounds crazy, but it's really not all fun and games. I take thorough notes about the wine's color, aromas and flavors as well as the history and people involved in each winery. I have to know about the winemaking process and how each step of that process affects the product in the bottle. I need to speak intelligently about each sip, commenting on the wine's weight, texture and acid levels. ("This tastes good," doesn't quite cut it here.) And I often have to taste wine in the presence of the its maker, which means maintaining a happy face whether I like the wine or not. Frankly, I'm not drinking the wine to enjoy it, or the gentle relaxed feeling that each sip of wine provides. I'm tasting the wine to analyze it, to determine if it belongs on my wine list and whether my guests will like it as much as I do. It's a lot of pressure.

Fortunately enough for me, I get to taste more good wine than bad, making the process that much more enjoyable. Today I was lucky enough to sample the new vintage of Nikolaihof's Gruner Veltliner, Hefeabzig, a wine that I would happily taste each and every day. It helps that Gruner Veltliner holds a special place in my heart. There is just something about the variety's bright savoriness and oily texture that really speaks to my palate.

Nikolaihof is the oldest winemaking property in Austria, and the first biodynamic estate in the Wachau. The property dates back 2000 years, with wine being produced there since the time of the Celts in around 470 A.D. It's a beautiful place with elements of history scattered throughout, like their cellar which was built in what was originally a Roman crypt. The Saah's family that owns and operates the winery takes the biodynamic philosophy seriously, utilizing its principles in their daily lives and crediting it for the consistency of their wines from vintage to vintage.

This wine is nothing if not complex. On the nose, it hints at richness with aromas of potent lime, minerals and salt. But the palate is where this wine really sings. It's amazingly perfumed with touches of white flowers and exotic fruits. The flavors bring to mind bright red plum, bursting with freshness and acidity, alongside savory herbs and rich chamomile. It is complex and layered, heavy on mineral content and elegant notes of white pepper. This wine truly provides a new discovery in each sip.

I don't think I've ever tasted a wine from Nikolaihof that I haven't liked. I try to always have this wine on my list at Lucques, not only because I happen to love it, but because it works so well with Suzanne's cuisine. If every wine I tasted was like this, my job would be a breeze.

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