Posted in Burgundy Posts |
2am. Going on 3am. Can’t sleep. The 2012s are now all in bottle, packaged up and ready to be sent out the door. As we are currently in transition to another US importer (Adventures in Wine, California – over 25 years in the business of importing/shipments and logistics with a sterling reputation) are labels are currently being submitted for label approval in the US. For those keeping track, this is the fourth time we will have them pass (each importer change requires new submission).
Something has to be said about Amedeo/Wineflite. I will follow up tomorrow with an update. Suffice to say for the moment that we are looking into their inventory to get to the bottom of the…discrepancies. We appreciate your patience while we handle this matter internally. Information will be shared with you all as it is made available to us.
Those in the U.S. will need to wait an additional amount of time for this process which typically takes 30 days. Everyone else will have their 2012s made available for shipping starting this Monday, March 23rd! Excellent news. But I have more news. The 2013s will be bottled shortly. We will of course bring you updates as they are made available. However, you can count on a Summer 2015 ready date!
I will have full tasting notes on these wines within the next few….kidding, kidding. I won’t ever have those. I like the wines, I’m biased, I hope you like them as well.
2014s are moving through malo. More info on these in a few months…or so. For those interested, Echezeaux is just like I imagined it would be. Two barrels. Not bad….
Thank you again for all of your support!
Posted in Burgundy Posts |
Hello again everyone,
last night I wrote a quarterly update on many aspects of Maison Ilan. I needed to be quite precise in what went into this update as several of these details have not been addressed before in this level of detail. More than a handful of the topics I wrote about including the limitations we had regarding space have a substantial impact on how we work, as well as the timing of it all. It may seem like a small thing, but there are certainly frustrations to be had by everyone when you wish to perform certain winery aspects and are slowed by trivial things such as snow and -3°C weather.
Now, there is quite a larger subject that I touched on last night, without actually going fully in-depth, delays/failures shipments, inefficiencies of concept, lack of execution, and outright failure to meet our own expectations. Here is the deal, as the guy at the wheel, every aspect of the business was set up by me. Everything from our fruit sources, type of paper on labels, color and shade as well as weight of the bottles, corks, their quality level and markings/(lack of) treatments, vendors, and everything else that Maison Ilan is has been put together by way of my own intuition, research, assumptions, best guesses, experience, inexperience, and luck (whether classed as dumb or otherwise). With this understood, in my eyes, I have to take responsibility when things don’t line up. While I do this willingly and knowing that it can put me into a space that places the full weight of any shortcomings on my shoulders, I do it because I need to be 100% in it to feel like I am making the most out of this experience. However, shipping delays, decisions on elevage and a sub-standard level of communication is just that – and nothing more that is being intentionally falsely reported with the intention of damaging my family and reputation as a means of sport and entertainment. There have been far too many occasions where shedding the light on aspects of a particular issue would have taken pressure off of me, but I stayed silent, believing that sharing this information would only lead to others viewing it as a lack of taking responsibility. Along with this, I understand that a competent business can make mistakes. My deciding to work with anyone is an endorsement of my faith in them being what I believe to be a great addition to our work. I don’t believe in throwing another business under the bus in order to take heat off of myself but there have been numerous times that this has indeed been taken advantage of in certain corners where all is permissible and worthy of attention, excluding logic and fairness.
Unfortunately, this willingness to take on this level of responsibility has left me open to taking on what I believe to be (dis)credit in arenas that are outside of my role as the co-owner (etc.) of Maison Ilan. I’m actually of two minds about this because Maison Ilan is my experience, my baby, my winery, my work. The direct to client consumer concept that I created was one that at its base was supposed to ensure a better experience for the client, through lower direct prices, a direct relationship between the winery and the consumer and doing away with what I believed to be unnecessary tiers. I couldn’t understand why no one else that I knew of was doing this sort of concept – so I figured I figure it out myself. Besides, if I was simplifying things, just how difficult could it be?
As it turns out, much of the concept was executed well. However, there were quite a few situations that worked against things going as smoothly as I imagined them to. The first detail which created snags was giving estimates based upon the details which I controlled and adding in the estimated delivery times I was given for vendors for things such as capsules, labels and corks. I never should have done this. I looked at my sharing estimates as just that, sharing an estimate. It turns out to be much more than this when you are pre-selling your wines quite early, and doing all that you can to figure out the logistics of starting a small business in a foreign country, in a field that you have just four months of trainee-level experience in, as your sole employee, working with vendors that you have vetted while asking them to go beyond the level of detail they typically work within, while attempting to deliver your wines in a manner that seems incredibly logical – but has not been tested by your peers. Unfortunately these estimates were not something that should have been shared as too much depended on details that couldn’t be rushed or placed onto a timeline.
Adding to this, I made several decisions regarding the 2011s that to many was worthy of an unbelievable (and baseless) level of skepticism and innuendo that truly reached into unprecedented levels of…behavior. But here is the thing, it was my decision alone to ask professional critics to visit and taste but to not share their experiences with the public due to my growing issue of having too much of a taster’s experience potentially colored before they had a chance to view, smell and taste the wine themselves. This decision was also influenced by one prominent critic on more than one occasion suggesting that the final ratings on my wines should have a cap as he felt as though I had not struggled enough (by having lesser classified vineyards or difficult vintages) to have my wines receive ratings beyond a specific numerical level. In this same year, I decided that I should bottle my own wines after growing increasingly frustrated watching a bottling company handle my wines and a worry that handling my bottles after handling cigarettes while on break could influence my bottles. (I know.) This lead to my feeling a larger sense of control in when I would bottle. Previously, it was more of a matter of falling in line with what my peers were generally doing in regard to their timing and when the bottling company could fit us in. That never sat well with me and I saw the opportunity to explore what I began to view as a larger part of the process, length of time in barrel, the elevage.
My mistake here wasn’t in keeping the wines in barrel for a longer period of time, it was in my communication, both in not conveying a sudden change in what I had done in previous vintages as well as my increasing activity on social media. It was a mistake to think that as the wine producer that I had control over the sold out wines in my own cave and that full confidence and patience was given to me and that any adjustment in timing forecasts would be understood by those waiting to receive their wines…especially by those that were not clients, but vocal onlookers. Instead of speaking about my plans on how they had changed I focused on their evolution, leaving my satisfactory findings to myself as I waited for the moment to bottle presented itself. If I had it all to do over again I would have better communicated how excited I was with the 2011 wine developments while steering clear of social media updates revolving around subjects that really were of no consequence that only served to work against the legitimacy of my efforts.
If it could have ended there, it would have already been an ordeal. However, the delays dragged on further as I wished to have my timing as best as I could. After waiting such a long time for the wines to develop and seeing such progress, I didn’t want to blow it at the end by rushing the final steps. After having our third vintage picked up from our winery in Nuits-Saint-Georges we encountered yet another series of disappointing scenarios involving misfires on shipping addresses, labels either being damaged or completely removed from the bottle, capsules removed from the bottle, unsatisfactory communication between myself and clients, unsatisfactory communication between shippers and clients, and quite worryingly a sharp disconnect between Maison Ilan and the shippers of our wines.
We are already implementing changes to these shortcomings and are working diligently to find more information on recent developments regarding the shipper of our wines. Among the concerns are discrepancies between the stated inventory and the dramatic differences of how the status of this inventory has been relayed to Maison Ilan and to our clients. Please understand that I am working on this a great deal and will have updates as soon as the information is made available to us. This is the third vintage that we have produced and shipped out to the US, and quite frankly each of these three shipping seasons have proved to be well below the level that they need to be at, and will assuredly reach. For all U.S. clients that are awaiting wines from Amedeo, remaining inventory has been said to be shipping. If you encounter anything other than this, please contact me directly via email or through my personal cell phone that has been listed on all of my websites for the past six years. We understand that many of our clients have certain expectations relating to what they feel constitutes a standard turnaround time for responses to emails. We apologize if we cannot meet a 24-48 hour response time that many have suggested to be standard for other businesses. We respond to emails as quickly as we can. Effective immediately, we are changing course from working with entities such as Amedeo beyond the wines which have already been sent to them. We are finalising details on a more mainstream approach to fulfilling direct client orders and will have news to everyone the moment we can share it with you all. Rest assured, we are moving forward. The evidence will be in our actions, not in forecasts.
Throughout this time, I have been working hard to take a look at the way that we do things and who we entrust responsibilities involving our wines to. In the end it doesn’t matter how capable another entity appears to be at handling something as precious as our wines are. The improvement starts with us, how we do things, being proactive and above all delivering more than what is expected of us. We believe a key detail in our achieving this is to continue to make immediate changes in our business practices on the customer service side of things.
We appreciate everyone that has supported us through the hurdles we have faced in venturing into the uncharted waters of our direct to client model and to those that have been mindful and patient when considering the work we are doing at Maison Ilan. This isn’t a concept winery, something we are just trying out. We have made a home here in Burgundy while consistently strengthening our roots here. Any and all hurdles will continue to serve as a basis for our improvement and development.
Thank you again everyone!
Ray and Christian Walker
Sole Proprietors, Maison ILAN
Posted in Burgundy Posts |
With harvest just around the corner, there have been a few things to put into perspective. How do you deeply reflect on your experiences with just two vintages under your belt? The reality of it all is that each vintage is different
it has been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted. In between posts, I released the offer for our 2011s to all of our existing Client List members. I’ve been able to personally speak with over 300 people by phone about our wines over the last two weeks. Its an interesting dynamic to be able to pick up a phone and to connect with someone that you may have never met, speak with them about wine and to form from that point a connection of sorts.
The response so far has been beyond anything I could have expected. People have been supportive of us since day one. And, I think that this has been essential. When I was setting up an empty one car garage with my first couple of fermentation tanks, I could see how I could fit a few more tanks if I allowed them to nearly touch. I could see that I would have enough room to walk in between the tanks with a full fruit case in my arms, that the ceiling was high enough to allow me to stand atop a mass of grapes, raise my arms to the point where I was pressing off of the ceiling, pressing my legs deep into the grapes below me. What I couldn’t have imagined was that so many people would be behind me while I am going through each step of this journey.
It puts things into perspective. And, while I have been well driven at nearly every moment over the past 40 months, there is something that must be said about the feeling I get when someone tastes the wines and enjoys them or when someone sends an encouraging message. Its a great feeling and one that I cannot altogether describe.
All of this is to say that while business has been exceptional, it means a great deal more to be able to hear the voices and to see the faces of those that will one day enjoy our wines. There really is something tangible that is added to my day each time it occurs.
I’m back off to bed. I felt restless, feeling the need to share this with everyone.
Thank you again