Top Austrian wine producer Alois Kracher died this morning after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 48 years old.
From the vineyards of his 40ha estate in Illmitz, on the eastern shore of Lake Neusiedl ‘Luis’ Kracher created some of the world´s most acclaimed botrytised sweet wines
His outstanding range of Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese and other late harvest wines captured the imagination and palates of sommeliers, restaurateurs, wine critics and writers around the world.
So significant were his talents and influence on other Austrian sweet winemakers, that Kracher helped catapult Austrian sweet wines to the ranks of other world greats, including German TBAs, Sauternes and Tokaji.
Although educated as a chemical engineer, Kracher began making wine in 1986 when he went to work at the winery of his father, Alois, who was already a sweet wine producer in Illmitz.
At that time, Austria was reeling from the diethylene glycol scandal of 1985, and its reputation and exports were in tatters.
Determined to show that Austrian wine could truly be great, the young Kracher developed his own style of botrytised sweet winemaking. He introduced two acclaimed ranges in 1991: the reductive, large cask-aged ‘Zwischen den Seen’ and the barrique fermented and aged ‘Nouvelle Vague’.
Over the years, Alois Kracher garnered innumerable accolades and awards. And his wines continue to score in the high 90s in ratings around the world.
Although botrytised sweet wines were the focus of Kracher’s work, he also produced dry white and red wines, and worked with unfashionable grapes including welschriesling, muskat ottonel and scheurebe.
He was also involved with numerous other projects and joint ventures. Among his many activities he produced Californian sweet wines for the US market with winemaker Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non. He made Moscatel with Jorge Ordonez in Malaga, and provided his own wines as ingredients for high-quality chocolates, vinegars, jellies and cheeses made by various Austrian companies.
He also operated a high-end wine importing business, Fine Wine, in Illmitz.
As well as his father, Alois Kracher leaves his wife, Michaela, and his 26 year-old son, Gerhard, who is expected to carry on his father’s work at the winery.
Written by Darrel Joseph in Vienna