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thewines of Kendermanns

by Tom Cannavan, 11/03

This was a tasting of wines from the large German firm of Kendermanns, who are responsible for one of the UK's leading German brands, Black Tower, but are perhaps better known amongst aficionados for their Dry Riesling, which has been a "Wine of the Week" on wine-pages in the past. Recently I attended a tasting of Kendermanns 2002 vintage wines, including some new "terroir" wines from single vineyards in various German districts, and some dessert wines which I'd never come across before.

Prices and UK stockists are given where known. Approximately £5=$7=€7

Kendermanns Dry Riesling 2002
Sourced from the Pfalz, this wine is fermented using German, French and Australian yeasts for complexity, and is left on its fine lees for several months to add texture. It has a fresh, but really quite powerful nose with lots of intense green apple and deeper, herbal notes. It has good fruit on the palate that is very solidly packed with pear and a more lush, apricotty character. Quite crisp, with a waxy lemon edge to the fruit and lemon acidity. Full and powerful, but clean and well made. Very good indeed. £4.29, Widely available including Oddbins, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Tesco & Thresher, Unwins

Kendermanns Pinot Grigio 2002
Also from the Pfalz, grapes are picked early to retain some acidity. This wine spends around 6 weeks on the fine lees. It has a much sweeter, slightly confected nose of pear and pear drops, with a touch of waxy lime leaf. Quite a full, generous mouthful, with plenty of orchard fruits and a candied edge. The finish is dry, and there is decent length to this highly commercial, but well made wine. Very good. £4.29, Widely available including Morrisons, Somerfield, Sainsbury's & Tesco

Kendermanns Organic 2002
A blend of Riesling and other varieties from organic vineyards in Rheinhessen, where legumes are planted between rows of vines to loosen the root structure and encourage the take up of Nitrogen. Pheremone traps and natural predators control pests. It has quite a nice nose, with lots of herbal notes and a touch of nettle over clean, bright fruit. Off-dry on the palate, with plenty of fruit and a very commercial style with lowish acidity. Good/very good. £4.49, Waitrose

Kendermanns Organic Rosé 2002
Rheinhessen again, and a blend of Dornfelder and Portugieser gives a bright cherryish colour and a gentle, fresh, summer berry nose with little rose-hips nuances and a certain herbal edge. The palate is soft and creamy, with crisp red fruits and a soft, low acid finish. Very good. £4.99, Thresher

Kendermanns Riesling Kabinett 2002
Mosel vineyards are the source for this wine made from 15- to 25-year-old vines. Chilean and German yeasts were used for this one, and 6 weeks of fine lees-ageing. It has a nice, very classic sour green apple nose with good fruit. The palate is very clean and crisp, with some waxed lemon and clean pear fruit. Decent length and balance. Very good. £3.99, Widely available including Asda, Safeway, Somerfield, Unwins

Kendermanns (Rheinhessen) Dry Riesling "Roter Hang" 2002
The first of the "terroir series" wines, which is based around Kendermann's programme to match soil and micro-climate to vine and wine style. Roter Hang means "red slope", and the soil is indeed red slate, rich in iron. Lots of work goes on in the vineyard here, with green harvesting and three passes through the vineyard at harvest time. Each picking was fermented separately before blending. It has a sweet, ripe, concentrated floral and peach blossom nose, with a lemon-drop edge and incisive fruit quality. On the palate there's a real fruit sweetness that pushes through to the finish, with balanced, if softer acidity. Very easy to drink though with character, and very good indeed. £6.99, Waitrose

Kendermanns (Mosel-Saar-Ruwer) Dry Riesling "Schiefer" 2002
Not in the UK as yet, the Schiefer comes from a classic Mosel vineyard of Blue Devonian slate, and it has a heap more minerality to its character, with fine herbal fruit, grassiness and green apple. It is very dry on the palate, with the bracing acidity giving a core of steel, and the lemony fruit character keeping the picture very taut. A tangy, tightly wound Riesling that will be better with a couple of years in bottle. Very good indeed.

Kendermanns (Pfalz) Dry Riesling "Kalkstein" 2002
Again, a wine not in the UK, and only minimal information available as yet. From the southerly Pfalz region, which often produces a fuller style of Rielsing. This has quite a delicate, blossom and orchard fruit nose, with a hint of tea leaf. The palate is quite full, with a searing core of lemony acidity, but also a more tropical ripeness to the fruit and plenty of zest and zing. Good length, and very vivacious. Very good indeed. £6.99, Safeway

Kendermanns Late Harvest 2002
The grape variety is unidentified for this wine on the label, but it is fact Huxelrebe. It is really quite subdued on the nose, with a slightly leafy quality and some downy peach fruit. It has a pleasant palate of sweet-edged fruit, with plenty of ripeness suggesting apricot and luscious peach. There is good acidity here, and all in all it is a very nice medium-sweet style of wine. Very good/very good indeed. £5.99, Thresher. 50cl

Kendermanns Eiswein 2002
Unidentified grapes varieties again in this wine from Nahe, picked in Late November during a cold spell, but it is either Riesling, or is based on Riesling. It fermented very slowly over several months. It has a honeyed nose, with a touch of barley sugar and a ripe, limpid fruit quality. The fruit on the palate is quite lush, with notes of mango and lychee, and some searing lime zest at the core. Good acidity here that adds a real edge on the finish. Very good indeed/excellent. £6.99, Waitrose. 50cl