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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

Austrian producers should hold annual tastings of their latest releases to raise the international profile of their wines, says Alois Kracher, one of the country's best-known winemakers. Kracher held a series of tasting workshops in the Burgenland from 19-21 October, where he expressed the hope that other producers would participate in an annual event to attract press and trade visitors in the same way that Bordeaux en primeur tastings do. One of the big differences, however, would be that bottled, finished wines, rather than cask samples, would be shown. Kracher specialises in sweet wines at Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese level, and showed the ten wines (Nos 1-10) which will make up the 2000 Collection' (the higher the number, the lower the alcohol and the higher the residual sugar). As well as varietals (Chardonnay, Muscat-Ottonel, Scheurebe, Traminer and Welschriesling), Kracher markets a Grande Cuve (a 50/50 Chardonnay/ Welschriesling blend in 2000) which he describes as not always the best wine, but the most representative of the vintage, with the best balance between alcohol and sugar'. He characterised the warm 2000 vintage as even better than 1999, with 10% of dried (passerill) grapes giving the wines a caramel' signature. The sweeter wines, such as Welschriesling TBA No. 10, with 5.5% ABV and 400 grams per litre of residual sugar, are rather like bumblebees, which shouldn't fly, but somehow defy gravity and float. Speaking to Harpers, Kracher said that the 1985 Austrian wine scandal' had been like a war, in depriving the country of an entire generation of winemakers - the '85 generation'. That's the real tragedy,' he said. There are only a few left who are open-minded. To create the real image of Austria we need many more.' He said that a new generation of growers is ready and willing, but lacks the financial resources. The young guys have one hectare for quality and eight hectares for quantity. They have to live. The 100% quality answer is time, but they don't have it. There are always the commercial pressures. A more open social system in the world of wine is what's needed most.'