GERMANY (Bad Sobernheim) - Though grown up in a small self-marketing winery in Bad Sobernheim in the wine growing region near the Nahe river, and though the conditions for viticulture are optimal there (which is proven by neighboring wineries like Dönnhoff, Schäfer-Fröhlich, Emrich-Schönleber, Crusius), Christian Bamberger was not eager to be a vintner. After passing the A-levels, he spent one year in California, where he tasted into the University of Viticulture in Napa Valley and, thus, he found a relationship to red wine. Nevertheless, he decided to study business administration, and then, he worked at a bank in Frankfurt as a trainer for investment consultants.
Then, in 2000, his mother, who came from the Rhine-Hesse region and who had brought three hectares near Stadecken-Elsheim, died. His father - no longer a young man - suddenly was out on a limb with the Steinhardter Hof , an unknown 8 hectare winery, and he needed help. Christian Bamberger’s brother, who used to be chosen as the son and heir, had other career goals, too, and he was already living in Vienna at that time; so the banker from Frankfurt was needed.
At the beginning, the junior helped on low flame. Later, he worked at home from Thursdays to Sundays, and only the rest of the time he spent in the bank. Five years ago, his father, then 63 years old, did not want to continue the winery; in 2006, at the ripe age of 36, Christian Bamberger took over completely. His occasional work in the vineyard and in the cellar as early as when he was young yielded the tools for his new job, the details he had to learn as an autodidact.
Gentle colleagues like Harald Hexamer or Heiko Bamberger, Christian Bamberger’s namesake, from Meddersheim. Moreover, he is supported by his girlfriend, who is dealing with the office. His father has retired completely. Though there was a large investment backlog in the winery, Christian Bamberger – meanwhile 42 years old – saddled himself with additional costs (and work) by purchasing some more hectares in steep slopes. He used the chance to cultivate new vines on vineyards that belong to Schlossböckelheim, and he describes the development as follows: “I go on step by step, something slowly, but there is much work.”
The outside facilities are just being renovated. At the moment, a sign at the main road refers to the old name of the estate though the winery is meanwhile named after Christian Bamberger. In the cellar, some plastic tanks are being sorted out and replaced by a range of barriques, which are to give above all the red wines their last touch. When it comes to white wines, only a chardonnay is being vinified with much sensitivity in the new wood.
Above all, the young vintner wants to make his name with red wines. He mentions that the area western of Bad Kreuznach as well as the Nahe region as a whole is famous for its white wines, in particular for its Riesling, but not much outstanding red wine is being produced here. “I can make my name with those red wines”, he is convinced. He does not want to achieve this with inexpensive wines. The normal wines start with a Riesling for 7.50 euro, some of the red wines cost over 20 euros (Cuvée Réserve, Cabernet Dorsa).
The good quality is important. His barrique chardonnay is a jaunty wine has a good flow, the “S” Riesling has pleasantly mineral and juicy tones, the sauvignon blanc has an unobtrusive aroma, but it is very spicy on the tongue. What means “terroir” for a wine can easily be explained by means of Christian Bamberger’s Schlossböckelheimer Riesling, that is presenting itself beautifully pure. The declaration “volcanic rock” can be positively tasted.
When it comes to red wines, the pinot noirs shows much fire. Cabernet Dorsa, a new variety that has often been used for cuvees, is now an independent, smooth red wine. The blanc de noirs champagne out of pinot noir is succeeding, a merlot blanc de noirs, the other “colorless wine” is a refreshing merlot blanc de noirs.
Mr. Bamberger has abolished the rating system as he doesn’t want to produce beerenauslese or ice wines anyway. Nonetheless, a Riesling with 80 g/l of residual sugar is being declared as “noble sweet” in the price list. A noble collection of wines, called 7by CB”, has been created with currently eight red wines (even with a dornfelder among them) and a white wine, the above mentioned volcanic Riesling.
“For me, the figure seven is something like a lucky number”, the vintner explains. “It is a kind of symbol for perfection. This must not necessarily be true for our wines but we want to express that our wines deserve a great deal of attention.” The winery itself has got positive attention. The current Gault Millau issue is speaking about a “meteoric rise” and about a “collection in one pour”. (r.knoll)