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Salvatore Leone He is a wine lover like no other: Eric Inglessis, a sixty-year-old sales manager from the Monts du Lyonnais (France), explained to Audrey Domenach why he has collected 55,000 labels from all over the world, going back to the 19th century.

How did this passion start?

Eric Inglessis: As a wine lover, I started peeling off labels to keep a souvenir of a shared moment. It's been more than 20 years since I started peeling off labels. One thing led to another and I started to collect and exchange them... I now have about 55,000 labels from all over the world in binders and tens of thousands more in boxes. I sort them by country, by appellation, by theme, by year. My family accepts this collection: a room in my house is dedicated to this passion.

Of course, I haven't tasted all these wines, otherwise I wouldn't be here to tell you about them! I am a wine lover, but I don't collect wines - wine labels do, though! But I do seek to be surprised by the new territories that are entering into wine making and tasting these amazing wines. I show a sample of these labels on my website to share my passion: www.etiquettesdevin.com. Thanks to my collection, I have participated in exhibitions, in the publication of books in sommelier schools or in an edition of the reference work "Le grand Larousse des vins".

Why oenography?

Eric Inglessis: Collecting wine labels is a pretext for travelling the world, meeting passionate people, and an inexhaustible resource of culture and discovery. I have been able to taste and bring back wines during my travels in countries that were not originally wine-producing. My friends, who know my passion, do not hesitate to bring me back some "trophies", such as the Indian wine "Sula Wine".

I have met wonderful and passionate people who one day leave everything behind to work in the vineyard, like at the Mathouans estate. I have seen winemakers who open their doors to share their passion, such as the Hausser family, who for years have decorated their wine labels with drawings made by their daughters. I discovered passionate people who are trying to bring back to life the forgotten culture of vine and wine in the regions of France.

What are the most remarkable labels in your collection?

Eric Inglessis: To see the most beautiful pieces of my collection, visit my website. I could tell you great stories about wine labels like the Italian vineyard Vino de la pace who for years assembled all possible grape varieties to make a wine of peace, all adorned with sublime labels. Or the Swiss and their "Memory of Time" series, which for each year of their ageing wines described on their labels the major elements that took place at the time of bottling so that years later, when tasting their wine, one would remember these events that had marked the time. In short, each label can tell a story other than the regulatory elements. It takes you on a journey. For example, I spent the year of the confinement looking for wines all over the world in countries where viticulture is almost non-existent.

What issues are you most sensitive to?

Eric Inglessis: I have a particular affection for the labels published for festivals and cultural or sporting events. They are often limited editions and their rarity makes them more desirable. Labels with themes such as the arts, women, sports, butterflies or birds are my favourites. If I had to choose a label from my collection, it would be this Côtes du Forez label entitled "Carpe Diem", probably inspired by Rubens' Bacchus, which could perfectly correspond to the relationship I have with the wine. Today, I exchange with French and foreign correspondents and I specialise rather in beautiful series of labels. I collect new labels from the wine industry. For labels that need to be removed, I have a method for carefully removing them from their bottles.

What is this method?

Eric Inglessis: Put the empty bottles 2 to 2'30 in the microwave and the glue on the labels heats up so much that it takes on its original structure. The label simply peels off, with no trace of the operation. A bit of baby powder on the back of the label, and you can file it as new in your albums.

Be careful not to burn yourself as the glass is very hot. Also avoid thermal shocks, otherwise the glass will explode.

Are there other people who have the same passion as you?

Eric Inglessis: Yes, I belong to a number of collectors' clubs. There are about ten of them in Europe. And I belong to the brotherhood of the Order of Dignitaries of the Label, which aims to promote the graphic heritage linked to viticulture. There are a few clubs in France as well as in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. All clubs organise label exchange meetings several times a year.

The rule for each club is not to sell but to exchange labels. On the other hand, I have collector correspondents on almost every continent. I spend a lot of time contacting the wine world in order to constantly enrich my collection. I am constantly looking for new things and I must say that I am always amazed by the creative spirit of some people when it comes to decorating wine bottles.

Your hope?

Eric Inglessis: I hope that my website will show the thousands of people who secretly and almost shamefully keep a few labels at the bottom of a shoebox that you can proudly display your wine labels. The problem for all collectors is transmission. Indeed, our children are little or not interested in this kind of collection, and we know that one day or another, when we have passed away, the fruit of a whole life of research, collection, classification, will end up in a dump. Nevertheless, we note with hope the creation of museums dedicated to the heritage of vines and wine.

Can we contact you?

Eric Inglessis: If your readers want to participate in enlarging my collection, they can send their labels to my postal address.

Eric Inglessis 17 impasse des bleuets
69210 Lentilly - FRANCE

I remind people who contact me that I never sell labels that have been offered to me but that only exchanges are accepted.

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