Austria lost two of its winegrowers this week, Alois Kracher, Jr., 48 and Erich Salomon, 64. Both succumbed to cancer.
For many, Luis Kracher was the face of Austrian wine. Though he and his family specialized in dessert wines from vineyards around Illmitz, on the shores of Lake Neusiedl, Kracher was a passionate and tireless promoter of all Austrian wines. He traveled widely and possessed a keen and curious palate.
The wines he made with his father were not only the best of their type in Austria, they were among the best sweet, dessert-style wines made in the world. Most of all, they were unique, falling somewhere between the racy, botrytized Riesling BAs and TBAs of Germany and the more powerful, oak-scented Sauternes of Bordeaux.
I first met Luis at Vinitaly in 1998, shortly after I began covering the wines of Austria. He was always full of enthusiasm and eager to discuss wine. Over the years, whether we met in New York, or Austria, or at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, he wanted to know what I thought about the new vintage of Austrian wines. We would compare notes and more often than not, after some serious discussion, have a few laughs over a beer or two.
Erich Salomon was more comfortable among his vines. I only met Erich twice, once at the Salomon-Undhof estate in Krems and once when he visited our office in New York. I knew his brother Berthold, first as the driving force behind the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, then later after he succeeded Erich at the helm of the family estate. Bert often spoke of Erich’s love for the vineyards.
Both men gained friends and fans through their wines far beyond the boundaries of their respective villages in Austria. Both will be missed.