Black Tower re-launches

Black Tower re-launches

16th May 2010

The Big Brother effect and the launch of their premium range of wines.

Black Tower - the definite wine icon of the 1970’s and staple of dinner parties across the UK. It has always been a strong seller, despite loosing its appeal in the 1990’s and early 2000, when bone dry, high alcohol wines became the order of the day. Then in 2002 Big Brother came along, the reality TV show that gripped the British nation, at least for a while. We remember when the Big Brother housemates announced that it was their wine of choice and sales subsequently rocketed. What an endorsement!

Black Tower is a global brand that divides the community. Some members enjoy the wines, others won’t touch them. Many wine writers are extremely sniffy about Black Tower and won’t be associated with any wine brands. Thewineremedy tries to keep a more open mind; we are interested in what is in the bottle, not the brand behind the wine. 


With that in mind, we were happy to accept our invitation to taste their new range of premium wines. Reh Kendermann, the brand's owner, had already unveiled a new bottle design for their flagship wine 'Rivaner' earlier this year. The signature black roughened glass has now been replaced with a new style, incorporating clear glass at the bottom of the bottle. It does make it easier for the wine buyer to see what they are getting.


Then came the announcement that they were launching these ‘special release’ wines. Three wines have been released, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir, produced from lower yielding vineyards in the Pfalz and Baden regions of Germany. They retail at £7.99 and the Chardonnay is now available at Morrison’s supermarkets. But the key question is - how good are the wines?


Well, we tasted the entire range in April, not just the premium wines. The star of the show from the classic range was the rosé. A beautiful soft wine with strawberry and rose petal on the nose, it slipped down wonderfully and would make perfect summer drinking. We have tasted so much alcoholic, heavy and flavourless rosé this year - this was a nice change. Their flagship wine 'Rivaner' is a refreshing, light aromatic wine with notes of lychee and green fruits. A good aperitif wine.


The premium wines were harder to judge objectively, especially the Pinto Noir. We like Pinto Noir with flesh and muscle on its bones, German Pinot Noir (known as Spätburgunder) can often be thin, watery and pinched, with a meanness of flavour. We were pleasantly surprised however by the premium Pinot from Black Tower. Global warming is clearly changing the style of Pinot that Germany can make; the wine was medium bodied with ripe cherry fruit on the nose.  It had a lovely soft texture and again, cherry fruit and a certain earthiness on the palate.  We were less convinced by the Chardonnay, which was a bit of the lean side and lacking in body and drive. The Riesling was refreshing and light on the palate, a different wine from the Rieslings of the new world. We feel though that the classic range wine offers a comparative taste at a lower price.


Ultimately, we were very impressed with some of the wines we tasted and crucially they offered excellent value. It’s important that we don’t automatically dismiss wines because they are branded wines. What matters is the contents in the bottle, not a brands reputation. Look at Cloudy Bay! The Black Tower rosé for example was better than many wines we have tried that cost double. Try them for yourself and let us know what you think?


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