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François Audouze storied collection

15 Nov / 2023

Amorim Cork receives Francois Audouze’s exceptional collection of cork stoppers

François Audouze, one of France’s best-known collectors and advocates of rarer and older wines - including Romanée-Conti, Yquem, Mouton-Rothschild, and other great iconic wines - has donated his prestigious collection of cork stoppers and capsules to Amorim Cork - with more than 4,000 corks dating from 1700 to the present day.

The collection is now being exhibited for the first time at Amorim’s Heritage House, located next to the company's head office, in Santa Maria de Lamas, Portugal.

The recently-inaugurated Heritage House expects to receive over 5,000 visitors per year. The museum pays tribute to key moments from Amorim’s history, spanning more than 150 years since the firm began trading as a producer of cork stoppers for the Port wine industry.

François Audouze has one of the world’s largest wine collections, with over 40,000 wines, some as old as 1690. During his life and professional activity, he has opened over 20,000 bottles. He has also carefully collected the cork stoppers, some of which are over 200 years old.

Since 2003 he has organised over 3,000 "wine dinners", attended by leading wine collectors and enthusiasts, and also runs a well-known blog and Instagram account with 54,900 subscribers - the "Carnets de François Audouze".

Audouze is renowned for his special technique for opening old bottles known as 'slow oxygenation', which involves very slowly extracting the cork stopper, 4-5 hours before consuming the wine, that dispenses with the need for decanting and maintains the wine stable for the meal in which it will be consumed.

In an exclusive interview François Audouze explained that his love of wine is essentially self-taught, based on following his personal tastes. When he went to a blind tasting event as a young man and sampled a 1923 vintage bottle of Sauternes, he said that he “almost fell out of my chair”. From that moment on he began purchasing old wines, above all to drink, rather than keep in a cellar. “At one moment I realised that the truth lies in old wines”, he confided.

He has a complete inventory of the 40,000 wines in his collection, including reference of the name, vintage and even the distance between the cork stopper and the wine in the bottleneck.

He explained how his taste has evolved over time: “When I was young I drank many Cognacs and Armanacs but I don’t anymore, because at a certain age your preference changes. I discovered that old champagne are wonderful and now I buy, very seriously and significantly, old champagne. Because in my family people said a champagne after 10 years is dead. But the opposite is true, it begins to live!”

He praised the quality of cork stoppers to preserve the long-term vitality of champagne. “To give you an example, the finest bottle of Dom Perignon I ever drank was 1929 vintage. The best Veuve Cliquot was from 1947. The best champagne I ever tasted is a Maison Juglar, from a winery that disappeared in 1829. I drank a bottle of Juglar from 1820. There was such emotion I had the feeling that I was drinking this wine as would have done a man of 1840, and the emotion to think what I was drinking is exactly the same as what a man of 1840 had drunk was fantastic!”

He added that he had never experienced the taste of any his wines changed by the cork stopper. He also explained that he is against recorking because new air enters the bottle and impacts the wine.

For example he says that his best-ever Chateau d'Yquem wine was an 1863 vintage which still had its original cork stopper. “It was absolutely fantastic!”

In relation to Portuguese wines, given that his main area of interest is old wines he has concentrated almost exclusively on Port and Madeira wines: “I have drunk more old Madeira and Port wines than many people of Portugal!” he said with a grin.

António Rios de Amorim, Amorim Cork’s Chairman, said that he was delighted by the donation of the collection of cork stoppers: "Amorim Cork and Portugal in general are world leaders in the cork industry. Many of these antique cork stoppers, steeped in history, are effectively returning to their origins, near the Alentejo’s mythical cork oak forest. We will take special care of this magnificent collection, which will be on display next to the world’s most modern natural cork production facility.

François Audouze added: “One day I will leave this earth... so, by offering these corks to the Amorim family, I think that the memory of the intense moments provided by the wines will still be present. Through this donation to a company and a family that share this desire for eternity, that’s precisely what I am trying to achieve."


François Audouze storied collectionFrançois Audouze and Dr António Rios de Amorim 

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