Friends and colleagues are reminiscing about Len Evans, a much-loved figure of the Australian wine industry, who died of a heart attack last week.

The news of his death at age 75 has prompted responses from colleagues and friends around the world, who agree Evans did more than anyone else to raise the profile of Australian table wine.

‘I met him in late 1966 or ’67,’ James Halliday, a friend, writer and fellow wine competition judge, told decanter.com. ‘We instantly became friends, although I doubt either of us could have guessed where that friendship would head over the next 40 years. My immediate impression of him was – and never changed – his integrity, his quick wit, his great palate, his love of life, and his determination to drink only the best in as large quantities as possible, in the shortest possible time.’

Another colleague and friend, writer Huon Hooke, said, ‘[The] beautiful way he spoke about wine [was] incisive but never pompous, and his use of language bordered on the poetic.’

‘I had been dreading this news for years,’ Hugh Johnson, a long-time friend and collaborator, told decanter.com. ‘Len had been balancing caution (in moderation) with his irrepressible gusto for life and wine; gusto won and he has gone down in glory. Australia should have a day of mourning. I certainly shall. We shall never see the like of Len again.’

Sarah Kemp, publishing director of Decanter, said, ‘Len represented all that was the very best about wine. There was no better educator or ambassador. He was a truly great man.’ Evans was chosen Decanter Man of the Year in 1997.

A wine producer, judge, writer and speaker, Evans arrived in Australia from England in 1955, where he became a dingo fencer and television comedy writer. He was Australia’s first regular wine columnist, and founded the Australian Wine Bureau in 1965.

Evans died in Newcastle, Australia.

‘We’ve had calls from around the world and all ends of the social spectrum,’ said his son-in-law Steve Waterson. ‘People [phoned] in to radio shows to talk about their memories of him. It’s been very touching.’

Evans leaves his wife, Trish and his children, Sally, Jodie and Toby.

A full obituary will follow.

Written by Felicity Carter and Decanter staff