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It isn’t always like this. Honestly, there are times when it all seems to just spill over, the images around me, I get too used to them. I don’t know. The moments where I catch myself thinking of Burgundy as simply the place where I live, the place where two of my three children were born, a collection of the many small villages that I’ve walked through when I didn’t have a car that has somehow turned ‘normal’, it bothers me for some reason. Not too long ago I lived right next to San Francisco, I’ve never walked across the Golden Gate bridge. I’ve met so many here that have walked on it, no, ran the full distance of it. To live so close to something wonderful, while being numb to the full gravity of it all…well, it just feels wasteful.

 

This is why I do my best to look at the small things as much as I can, taking in each aspect of my day as if it will be the last time that I’ll get a chance at it. Time is too precious, the moments too fleeting to not want to draw them close, the inertia of it all sweeping you off center. I typically feel this way. My family, the place where I live, the food, wine. I look around most of the times hoping that I can remember just how beautiful some of the things are that I have been fortunate enough to see, taste and smell.

 

With my wines, it has been a bit of a different story. I don’t taste the finished product all too often. I know, crazy. But when you are on a micro level such as we are, you start to think about each bottle opened today is one less that we will be able to try later on. I want our children to experience some of our wines as they mature and develop. And besides, we haven’t been at this for ages, most of my wines shouldn’t be opened for a decade or more. Of course I want to know how the wines are maturing, I just feel a bit guilty opening them up too early. Though at times, curiosity gets the best of me or visitors are stopping by, and bottles get opened.

 

It has been a long time since I’ve tried a few of the wines I opened up the other day. I’ll spare you with tasting notes, I’m biased anyhow. What I will say is that while I am well removed from the idea that my decisions somehow increased the quality of the resulting wines, there are no amount of words that can convey just how proud I am and how fortunate I feel to be in Burgundy with all of the opportunities that life, family, friends and luck have provided me. I find myself shaking my head in disbelief when reflecting on how all of this came together.

 

For everyone that has helped along the way, I appreciate your support!

 

All the best,

 

Ray Walker

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Our New Exclusive Importer for the United States of America:

Wilson Daniels

Good evening everyone,
I’m writing to you tonight with a bit of news to share. We have previously had two importers for the U.S., one in New York and the other being in Los Angeles. Our wines were generally sold through two or three small wine shops in the surrounding area of the importer. Adding to this, aside from the private client list, we never exported much wine to the U.S. This was something we wished to change considering that we are one of maybe five producers from the U.S. in Burgundy, and the only one from California. In fact, only one wine shop in the San Francisco Bay Area (which is where we are from) has ever carried our wines. 

All of this is about to change. We recently launched a partnership with Wilson Daniels of Saint Helena, California, making them our exclusive U.S. importer. They will import and distribute our (non-private list) wines thorughout the country. Maison Ilan will not only be a part of their prestigeous portfolio, but we will also be one of four Burgundy producers within their private client portfolio along with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leflaive and Olivier Bernstein. Wilson Daniels has been the sole U.S. importer of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for the past 35 years, as well as the largest importer of their wines in the World. 

It is an honor to work with Wilson Daniels and we look forward to the many opportunities they have in store for our wines in the U.S.

Cheers,
Christian Lili and Ray Walker
Maison ILAN
Côte d’Or
France 

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5 Harvests down, on to number 6   /   2013 Maison Ilan Futures Window

Hello again Everyone,
I wanted to reach out to everyone tonight to say a few things about the support that we have been given and what it has meant to not only my family but to the growth and success of our winery. It hasn’t been too many years since I was in California dreaming about getting my hands dirty with grapes, watching every wine show on TV that I could find, reading every last sentence within any wine book I could get my Hands on. I was and still am obsessed with wine. With just five short years under my belt here in Burgundy, I approach the visit to the vineyards with the same excitement as I did when I first visited in January of 2009. I still nudge Christian and the girls while pointing to some beautiful angle of the slopes that I couldn’t let them miss. As much as I feel at home in Burgundy, the reality of it all has escaped me, I can’t believe my place in Burgundy is where we call home and the birthplace to two of our three children. 

And as much as I am what I Call a practical optimist I can see now that all of this crazy jump off of the cliff and hope for a cozy landing could have gone a million different ways. I didn’t care about that at the time, I just wanted to jump, the rest didn’t matter since the ground beneath me had never supported what I really wanted out of life anyhow. What I found was more than a path towards producing wines in the land that I Love, but a life for my family as well as an overwhelming amount of support for what my Vision was. That did and still does mean quite a lot to all of us. We appreciate the support you have given to us over these past five years and promise to continue to let our passions drive us towards providing individual wines and increasingly refined customer service. 

While thinking of the significance of 2014 being our 6th vintage here in Burgundy, we figured it would be as good as time as any to share a bit of news. This year we are set to start production on our 4th and 5th Grands Crus that we purchase in fruit. We will have more news on this later. 

2013 Futures Window Closing Soon

Everyone has been incredibly supportive of our winery during this Futures campaign. With such a small vintage as well as a new importer in U.S., we are now in the process of closing down the 2013 Futures Campaign. We all thank you for supporting our winery and for so many of you passing along your experiences with our wines at home as well as when visiting us in Nuits Saint Georges or at the Abbey de la Bussiere. 

Thank you again!

Ray and Christian Lili Walker
Maison ILAN
Côte d’Or
France

MAISON ILAN LOGO 3

- 2011 US Private Client wines have shipped!

Hello everyone,
I’m writing to you tonight to share a bit of news as well as changes at Maison Ilan. The first thing to mention is that the 2010 Gevrey-Chambertin Les Corbeaux orders will be arriving Stateside in roughly 30 days. As some of you know, these bottles have delayed some orders from being released. Also, it is with great pleasure that I can share with everyone the news that the 2011s (destined for the Private Client list)  have been picked up today and are heading to the US as we speak!! Wineflite will contact all US clients once the wines have arrived Stateside. Rest assured, they will make sure to take weather into account when scheduling deliveries and and holding wines for those that wish

I know, I know, they should have been resting in everyone’s cellars by now. I completely agree. So, with the wines having been bottled more than a few months ago, why have the wines taken until now to ship to the private clients? And why did the importer wines ship before the private client wines?

What we are trying to do with our private client list is simple, at least it should be. Simply put, I love going direct to our clients. Sure, importers are our clients as well. However, with private clients we are able to have a direct connection with those that are enjoying our wines. It means a lot for us to know who is going to be receiving our wines once they leave our winery. On top of this, selling all of our wines to an importer means that we aren’t able to build personal relationships with those that support us directly.

Since our first vintage, we have had a strong interest in going direct to our clients, especially in the US where the wine laws are complex. We didn’t have a model to follow as we didn’t know of anyone else doing this and so it has been a learning process as we have refined the connection between our clients and our winery. The first and second vintages saw our wines being brought in by our importers. They brought the wines in for us as an additional service, which was outside of what their core business was since they believed in the future of a direct model.

Moving forward with our third vintage, the 2011s, the importance of finding a permanent solution that would meet the needs of our clients was clear. The solution is Wineflite, a company which specializes in connecting wineries with their clients, one of the most important aspects of our winery. While the need for this solution was clear, we were not prepared to make the switch prior to the 2011s being bottled. The 2011s going to the importer were shipped right after bottling, while the private client 2011s awaited a streamlined solution.

The wines will arrive to your door without you having to work out importation details just as before, but you can now think of Wineflite as your personal shipper, dedicated to bringing your wines from our cellar to your doorstep without unnecessary complications. We appreciate that the road to this point has been a learning experience, but we are confident that these refinements to our winery shipments will provide a great benefit to everyone.

- Further Efficiencies

Our ordering process has at times been more complicated than it needed to be. The idea was simple enough, literally calling every single client that has placed an order. While speaking with everyone during this time has been enjoyable for us, we have come to the decision that this part of our business could use a modern update. We are currently developing an online ordering website that will allow vintage offers to be viewed, orders to be processed, and visibility on shipment updates. We believe that this will provide our clients with a better purchasing experience.

Cheers!

ray_signature

Ray Walker
Maison ILAN
Nuits-Saint-Georges
Côte d’Or, France

For those of you that purchased either directly or through merchants, you will be contacted once the wines arrive in the USA!!!!!!!!!

 

Thank you for your support and patience!!

Edit: Direct client wines were sent in a later shipment on June 9th.

Cheers

 

Ray

Hello everyone, 

as many of you may already know, the 2011s have been bottled and have already started to be shipped out to importers in the UK, Denmark, and Belgium. Wines for the US will be picked up on Monday. Private clients outside of US will be contacted directly for shipping instructions. 

 

I am proud to say that I believe that the wines greatly benefitted from the extra time in barrel! 

 

Thank you everyone for your amazing support!

Hello Everyone,

this entry will be a bit of a departure from my typically wordy…’style’. Nope, this time I am straight to the point behind my posting. Some of you are letting out sighs of relief. Shame on you.

Anyhow, as a negociant, I have the ability to purchase grapes, wine in barrel/tank or even in bottle. Since the beginning it was made clear to me that it was much easier to find wine than it was to find grapes. With my lack of initial understanding of this concept of not wanting to do less work, have all of your grapes sold and not have to worry about where to store barrels I was often frustrated in having Clos St Denis, Richebourg, Clos de Beze, Morey St Denis 1er Cru Clos Sorbe and many others offered to me when I couldn’t break from my focus and passion for buying the grapes and doing all of the production bits myself. To be fair, alright – all of these producers had more experience than me and a few were favorite producers of mine. However, one gripe stood in the way.

It wouldn’t be my wine!!!!!!!! How in the world could I sell a wine and act like it is my own when someone else did all of the work? Sure, there are major financial considerations….to consider. And sure, more Euros would be nice, especially when we haven’t had a bountiful harvest since 2009. But if I put the money in my pocket in this manner, by going against what I am personally passionate about, I feel like I would be selling or cheapening what makes me get after it and pushes me study on my profession with great pleasure.

So, here is the deal. I was offered some 2013 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres, and some 2013 Echezeaux, both in barrel. By shaking hands, I walked into Echezeaux 2014 forward in GRAPES! The grapes were offered in connection with the wine. Where does that leave me? Well, I could sell the wines as Maison Ilan wines and not say a peep. They are damn good at the moment. I could also just create a second label for when these situations come up. But the choice was simple, since the first two weren’t options at all, more like a ‘why the fuck would I do that?’ scenario. I’ll be buying the 2013 wines, and selling off to another negociant – at a cheaper price than I will buy it for if need be. I’d rather lose money in the pursuit of my passion than tainting what wine means to me.

We should produce around 2+ barrels of 2014 Echezeaux, our fourth Grand Cru! Whatever I have to do to get to this point I will gladly do.

Cheers

Ray

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