Updates from Burgundy

Hello everyone,

I recently mentioned that I would be better about my timing, especially with shipments, updates, etc. Well, here we are a few weeks later and I am still a tick behind the curve. I understand that many are interested in updates, believe that I’m making an effort and will continue to work on being better at it!

There are more than a few things to address. First of all, the 2011 vintage was a huge success for us. We were able to have the type of fruit that got us excited from the word go, decided to not chaptalize in spite of everyone else we know saying it was necessary, and after all of the dust settled we came away more than thrilled about the early results. I say early since even a few years after the vintage, in the scheme of things, the real spirit of the wines still need a good amount of time more to show themselves. As they are at the moment, I’m prouder than hell to have had my feet in the dirt, my hands on the grapes and my sweat on the barrels. It feels me with a pride knowing that every single wine that we bottled came from my tanks, filled into my barrels via gravity, left alone for over two years (besides the addition of marbles for topping/sulphur for protection), and Literally brought up in buckets that I hand carried. I didn’t do this because it was ‘the right way’, I did it because I am still the wine geek that gets excited about everyone of these steps. It may not stand out to someone that drinks the wine but the experience and intimacy that I have been afforded with my wines and this region has been nothing short of amazing. Each and every detail of the process was shaped from sheer intuition and faith that the simplest route would allow the wines to better express themselves. To know the wine in this manner is more than just part of a dream, it is the reality of fulfilling the dream and doing right by it by seeing it through. It is a selfish thing though, as it wouldn’t be much of an experience if I didn’t catch every second of it with my eyes wide open.

With all of this in mind, we didn’t plan on receiving much attention for what we were doing. If I posted my original business plan for Maison Ilan there would be more than a few that would be left wondering how the gap was filled from what I projected just months before harvest 2009, and how things actually turned out. Put simply, going by my long-winded (my unfortunate signature), I should now be onto my seventh vintage in Burgundy, with three wines, producing around 10 barrels, and just three years away from hopefully finding my first premier cru vineyard to source fruit from, thirteen to twenty years from hopefully finding fruit from a grand cru vineyard. I didn’t see any of this coming.

As much pride as we have for our 2011s, it is important to note that fulfilling the orders for the 2011s has been one that has engrained some very important lessons into us. Simply put, our execution of our direct to consumer concept has not met the high level of standards that we have been able to deliver with our wines on the production side. We are in the process of changing nearly every every aspect of how we handle things on the sales/fulfilling side of Maison Ilan. Some of this can be seen in out decision to not offer any 2014s for En Primeur for the first time since our first harvest in 2009. In 2014, we produced around 40 barrels, but we will only begin to offer the wines once we have made a good many changes. We feel that it is best to offer these wines to you once we have refined other aspects of our operations so they will better align with the production side of Maison Ilan. While business is the best it has ever been, we have taken a hard look at many aspects of Maison Ilan and have started to implement changes.

Some of you may know a bit about what we do in the winery, while others might think it is just marketing, something to say to sell wines, there is quite a bit of thinking that goes on behind the scenes – at times, perhaps too much thinking. We aren’t some huge industrialized winery with several teams of employees or a sales staff or receptionist, we aren’t even set up like most of the other family wineries in Burgundy. We are tiny, just my wife and I along with a few, usually three to five volunteers at harvest and maybe two during bottling, at times it is just myself.  The wines aren’t vinified in some state of the art winery with all of the latest conveniences, we work out of a one-car garage in Nuits-Saint-Georges. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was my choice to work where I work, and to work in the manner that I have chosen to. Our indoor space is quite limited which puts us in a unique situation of needing proper weather conditions to allow for some of the winery activities such as bottling, labelling, and packaging. The cave is also short on space, being just a bit larger than what is considered acceptable for personal use. We’ve made the space work while doing everything by hand, being careful and efficient, but we have reached a point where we’ve outgrown our original space. We are now moving forward on building a new cuverie in the Côte de Nuits from the cave up!!

I’ve recently been quite a bit more withdrawn from sharing the intricacies of what we do here at Maison Ilan. While I have (potentially over-)shared in the past (who needs to know what I am cooking on a Tuesday?), I am trying to find a happy medium. While we plan to be more vocal in the future regarding shipments in route and wines produced, don’t expect to see any shots of a new capsule design or videos of the labels whizzing by on the printing press. I’ve learned a great deal about where my focus should be when representing our winery.

While we have enjoyed the relationship we have had with our wines through shepherding them from receiving the grapes in the vineyard to shipping the bottles out, it is important to acknowledge that the aspects around deliveries have not been in line with our standards at Maison Ilan. It has become apparent that much of this is rooted in a lack of foresight, anticipation and control on our part. It is with this in mind that we will be implementing immediate changes in how our wines arrive at the doors of our clients and which entities we choose to be affiliated with. We understand that more is asked of us and we will certainly rise to meet and exceed these expectations.

Besides moving through previous vintages deliveries, the past few months has seen us bottling up a few of our 2012 cuvees. We’ve been quite anxious in getting all of the 12s wrapped up, and we know folks are just as anxious to have the bottles in their cellars but the weather hasn’t exactly been cooperating with a fairly inconsistent Winter, including no small amount of snow…which doesn’t work for bottling and labelling wines, especially when you don’t have much indoor space! Making decisions based upon speed is something that we refuse to do. The wines go into the barrel, move to tank and arrive in their bottles when it is time and for the time being (until the cuverie is built), when weather permits. Being at the mercy of the weather is something that we are working on changing as we are rearranging our facility to prioritise indoor space for bottling, labelling and packaging so rest assured, we will have some exciting news coming very soon!

Thank you again for your support!

Ray

We are just getting started…

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