German wines have a problem: although often delicious, their names can be tough to pronounce. So perhaps it’s not surprising that when consumers came across two German whites with friendly names, they embraced them so strongly that the two export brands – Blue Nun and Black Tower – came to define the 1970s. But while very few brands from that time have remained market leaders, Black Tower is still bringing new consumers to wine.
Created in 1967, Black Tower arrived on UK shelves in a black stone crock bottle. Originally a Liebfraumilch, the brand was modernised in the late 1990s, when Bingen-based Reh Kendermann acquired it. Black Tower has moved with the times, adding styles and varietals to the range, until by 2008 it was German’s bestselling wine. Its packaging was transformed again in 2010, with the range extended to include low alcohol wines and a sparkling meant to be served on ice.
Black Tower’s ability to maintain its identity while staying ahead of consumer trends has lifted sales to 15m bottles a year, and it is exported to more than 25 countries.
The Breakthrough Brands series is running over Issues 5 and 6 of Meininger's Wine Business International 2018, where we look at the brands that have shaped the modern world of wine.