GUT HERAMNNSBERG MAKES A BIG COMMITMENT TO THE ALTENBAMBERGER ROTENBERG SITE
Whoever takes the trouble to get to know the wines of the Nahe knows the names of the top vineyard sites. Whether Traiser Bastei, Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle, Norheimer Kirschheck or Schloßböckelheimer Felsenberg – just the mention of these names delights wine lovers...
…these vineyards sites are not only geologically and micro-climatically interesting. They are also cultivated by some world famous wine producers. And when one of these masters suddenly finds a special vineyard site that is like sleeping beauty and awakens it to new life, then it’s worth taking a look, because lost potential has been rediscovered.
Anyone who walks through the vineyards of the Nahe with their eyes open muss notice the changes in the Rotenberg site close by Altenbamberg. For decades large areas of the site were covered with scrub and only crumbling stone walls indicated that they were once intensively cultivated. Finally, a large part of them has been cleaned up, the weeds mulched and vines planted. Behind this action lies Gut Hermannsberg with a portfolio of vineyard sites that famously belongs to the best in the Nahe. Karsten Peter is the man responsible for them, for many years he has produced excellent wines at Gut Hermannsberg (also elsewhere) and was named “Winemaker of the Year” by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
It was Karsten Peter who rediscovered the Altenbamberger Rotenberg. At this point it’s worth stating that it certainly isn’t Gut Hermannsberg’s intention to increase its vineyard area or total wine production merely to satisfy the demand for good Nahe wine. In fact, the Rotenberg didn’t have it easy with Karsten Peter, in fact at the beginning he, “hated it like the plague.” The wines from the site, the cultivation of which was then subcontracted, were just too sour for him. To which must be added the effort necessary: the Rotenberg lies a good distance from Gut Hermannsberg and Peter must drive his jeep from Oberhausen on the Nahe over the high Feilbingerter plateau to the bumpy gravel track that takes him down into the Rotenberg. However, the site isn’t just far away, it’s also extremely steep, with an incline of up to 75%. Lots of driving, lots of effort, lots of work. At the beginning, “I would have preferred to sell it off,” Karsten Peter says now with a laugh.
Almost a decade later came the turning point when the Gut Hermannsberg team were busy with the estate’s Schatzkammer, or rarities cellar. Amongst other wines they tasted a regular quality 1992 dry Riesling from the Rotenberg. It was, “a sensational mature Riesling that flashed everyone.” It changed Peter’s view of the Rotenberg and made the winemaker curious. He began to take this vineyard site much more seriously and the results became better from year to year, although the Altenbamberger Rotenberg is a really difficult site. First there’s the steepness, then there’s the heterogeneous geological composition. Put simply, it’s not just red, but mixed up. With the cooperation of the regional office for environmental protection Karsten Peter will shortly plant another hectare in the upper section of the site. Most of the Rotenberg faces south and lies between 250 and 250 meters above sea level; the highest of Gut Hermannsberg’s vineyards. Here the vines bud out very early, but due to the windy situation the ripening of the grapes is long, slowed by cool winds. Karsten believes one of the parcels here is as good as Gut Hermannsberg’s absolute top sites. That should please lovers of high quality Nahe Rieslings, but only them, because Karsten Peter will never plant anything but Riesling in the Rotenberg. According to the VDP criteria the Rotenberg is now one of the Grosse Lagen / “ Grand Cru” from which Gut Hermannsberg only produces wines that are given the maximum effort.