Just in time for the steamy weather – our shipment of Nikolaihof elderflower syrup has arrived from Austria. Many of you have seen this syrup on our shelves before and, I hope, have had a chance to try it. Nikolaihof makes stunning Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings but now is the time for a taste of their heavenly hollerblüten or elderflower syrup.
Nikolaihof, in the beautiful Wachau region along the Danube, is the oldest wine estate in Austria and is now run by the Saahs family. The earliest known reference to winemaking on the estate dates back to 470 AD, and the Saahs still use a wine cellar built by the Romans. The entire estate is run according to biodynamic principles. As a result, the Saahs plant and harvest according to the moon calendar and use only homeopathic treatments for the grapevines and other plants.
Elderflower bushes grow all over the property – in the forest and around the vineyards. They only flower once a year, usually in late spring. According to Nikolaus Saahs, the blossoms can only be picked over a period of 2-3 days, when they are “perfect.” The flowers are quickly added to a simple syrup to steep. The sugar is dissolved into the water first so the flowers don’t have to be stirred too much, thus keeping as much of their delicate aroma as possible. The resulting syrup is thick and sweet and intensely aromatic with a unique floral note that combines flavors of lychee, grapefruit, and pear. The Saahs drink the syrup with sparkling water or sparkling wine. At a ratio of 1 part syrup to 6 parts water or wine, a 750mL bottle can last for months in your refrigerator. We also like the syrup in cocktails or drizzled over a berry or citrus sorbet.
Whether you’re looking for an alcohol alternative or a new flavor to add to your bar supplies, this is the most aromatic and pure elderflower syrup we’ve tasted. It’s also biodynamic and truly artisanal, handmade by the Saahs family with a total production of about 3,500 bottles per year (bottles, not cases!). Please let either our South End or Cambridge shop know if you would like a bottle set aside, as it is always a quick seller.
Julie Cappellano is the General Manager and wine buyer at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.