2008 Nikolaihof Steiner Hund: Again, a "torrential force of nature"...

Posted by Joe Salamone

Again, "a torrential force of nature"
2008 Nikolaihof Steiner Hund Reserve

"...doubtless one of the 5-10 greatest bits of land on which Riesling grows."

Or at least so says Terry Theise, regarding the tiny "Steiner Hund" vineyard located just outside of Austria's famed Wachau.

This is, of course, a pretty bold statement and if the criteria remain elusive and/or undefined - there can be little doubt that the wine the curious estate of Nikolaihof makes from this vineyard is one of the more ravishing dry Rieslings out of Austria, or anywhere else for that matter.

If this is one of the stranger "signature" bottlings a wine merchant could have (and it is), the fact remains that this is a beloved, cherished bottle of wine for us.

Today we present what may very well be the heir apparent to the legendary (at least within very geeky Austrian wine circles) 2004 Steiner Hund: the 2008.

As good as the 2006 and 2007 were, the 2008 is better. At least, it's more like 2004 - it has that power, that force, yet the minerality and structure of the wine is simply monumental.

Schildknecht called the 2004 "a torrential force of nature" and the phrase seems perfectly applicable to the 2008. Both 2004 and 2008 were leaner vintages and it seems that these are the years this vineyard excels. Somehow, vintages like this retain the power and depth of the wine, yet they give the wine an edge.

Another phrase Schildknecht used for the 2004 is appropriate for the 2008: "Long-awaited, late-bottled, and now at last released."

The Steiner Hund is held at the estate for extended aging both in cask and in bottle; in this way the bottling is something of a baby "Vinothek" for those of you familiar with Nikolaihof's super-rare, super-late release wine (the current, brand-spanking-new vintage of which is the 1995 Riesling Vinothek).

Why is it held back?

Because Nikolaihof works within their own time frame and by their own rules. If we're a bit short on clear, logical, easy-to-digest explanations for Nikolaihof, not to mention this wine, that should be taken as part and parcel of Nikolaihof, which has to be one of the quirkiest estates in the Wachau if not all of Austria.

The Saahs family famously farms both organically and biodynamically, and assertively so. You can't spend too much time at the estate without being told about the physical, ethical, moral and spiritual advantages of farming, eating and living according to the precepts of biodynamics. If this pseudo-proselytizing is a bit much to take sometimes, the truth is in the bottle and it's clear that their vineyard and winery practices are working.

The truth is in the bottle - and here it is again in the 2008 Steiner Hund.

Our pricing is as sharp as it gets; the wine should arrive in the early fall and drink for many, many years. We recently pulled an 04 from the cellar and it was still beautifully young - still very much a "torrential force of nature."

To order, please email us at offers@crushwineco.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Joe Salamone
Wine Buyer
Crush Wine & Spirits