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05 June 2006

Nigl's Sonoma


damn rain

Yet another rainy Saturday morning.  I'm beginning to think that the space-time-continuum has been folded over and Austria is now somehow meteorlogically-comsically juxtaposed over a Seattle winter.  The last week has been nothing but gray & drizzle.  If not for tasty wine, great food, and the occasional Manner Neapolitan, I would have a mean case of SADS.


I asked Martin to tell a dirty funny joke in order to induce laughter

Upon entering the Nigl winery's tasting room, I was greeted by Josef Nigl, the father of winemaker Martin Nigl.  Josef greeted me, and promptly launched into a screed about the weather.  Herr Nigl has worked in the vineyards for more than 30 years, so he knows a little something about the weather.  I asked Papa Nigl if he was worried about all the rain.  He replied that, rain at this time of year, is a secondary worry to the unseasonabaly cold temperatures.  The recent overnight temperature of 6 C (43 F) is unheard of in June.  This is what has Josef slightly grumpy and fairly worried.

While I had the Sr. Nigl's ear, I asked him to tell me the difference between the Wachau and Kremstal.  He replied that there actually isn't any and that wines of the Wachau are better known throughout the world; thus commanding higher prices.  I immediately thought of Napa vs. Sonoma.

When I asked Martin Nigl this "Wachau vs. Kremsta"l question, he responded that there are some differences.  The Kremstal is further away from the Temperature-moderating Danube.  This results in both greater temperature fluctuations and slightly later ripening dates for grapes in this valley.  These differences are translated into Kremstal wines through higher acidity, and more distinct mineral flavors.  I would concur with Martin's observation.  As I tasted through the Nigl wine lineup, I noticed Wachau-like flavors in the Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners.  Overall, however, the wines seemed a bit more crisp, and slightly less fruity.  With respect to quality, Nigl wines are on par with the best of the Wachau. 

[Listen to Martin Nigl explain some of the differences between the Kremstal & Wachau, and relate his winemaking philosophy (download mp3)]

Martin invited me to eat lunch with him in the family's restaurant.  He brought along a bottle of 1997 Nigl Hochäcker Riesling.  I would say that the slightly higher acidity in the wine aided it in aging beautifully.  The wine was still alive and went splendidly with smoked salmon over creamy risotto and truffles.  In addition to fabulous food in the restaurant, the Nigls also offer a small hotel to Kremstal wanderers.  The hotel is built in an 800 (!) year old house.  The rooms are all decorated in a modern style - the contrast is quite stunning.

Two Nigl wine standouts:
2005 Riesling "Privat" - This wine is made from the ripest, final harvest grapes from two of Nigls top vineyard sites.  The wine is fermented dry, and thus packs a wallop.  It is full of floral and pear scents with subtle peachy notes hanging around in the background.  Privat is rich in the mouth, with crisp acidity to prevent any heaviness.

2005 Grüner Veltliner "Alte Reben" - This wine is an old vines (40 years) expression of Grüner. It has dialed-down the citrus scents in favor of sweet nutmeg & clove spice notes.  While "Alte Reben" is rich and creamy on the palate, it still seems lively - Methinks this wine comes from still-active senior vines.

Nigl wines are imported in the US by Terry Theise (Skurnik Wines).  More photos here.

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Glad to see you visited Nigl. They're one of my favorite Austrian producers!

John Pertzborn

My wife is a Nigl from Wisconsin. Her grandfather was born in Austria and was brought to the USA as a baby. When I see the photos of Martin and his father, it's like looking at my wife's relatives.

Ja! Naturlich, kein unterschied zwichen diese leute. Ich hoffe nach den Nigl Wein Garten im Juni.

We drink the Nigl wine here in St. Louis where we now live and it is outstanding!


John - Es freut mich dass sie den Blog gefunden haben. Bitte, kommen sie oftmals auf Besuch!

charles nigl

Interesting, I am a Nigl from Wisconsin,but
my grandfather came from Bavaria. Up in the
Bayrwald,in Bischofsreut, on the border with
what was once Austria,now Bohemia, Czech
republic. Did your wife by any chance once
live in Oshkosh,Wis.?

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