Preface
Within these pages you will find our philosophy and methods, most of which have been inspired and reinforced by the works of André Jullien (1801), Denis Morelot (1821), Jean (Jules) Lavalle (1855) and Camille Rodier (1920). Without their guidance, much of our views would remain as simple intuition. The knowledge expressed in these books have provided us with a vivid picture of Burgundy's unique landscape. Because of them, it is known that these perspectives, based on its history and culture, are essential in understanding the fabric and very foundation of Burgundy wines.
 
1
2
Maison Ilan

Ray Walker, Maison Ilan
Maison Ilan is a garage-based micro-négociant winery, focusing exclusively on sourcing fruit and producing limited lots of red Burgundy from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards.

We focus on traditional Burgundian techniques, which provides more terroir transparency, as well as restrained and elegant wines: manual sorting on a fixed table, low to no pump usage, no chemical additions besides light sulfur, native yeasts, limited pigeage regime, no cooper variation throughout the entire élevage, and use of open-top wooden tanks.
 
3
4
The History

Before founding Maison Ilan, Ray Walker lived in California, working in the finance industry. Being close to nature has always been of interest. And, history has indeed been something which has always held his attention. His wife, Christian, showed him how wine could compliment a meal, and this was something he knew absolutely nothing about before meeting her. Almost obsessively, he started reading and watching everything he could about wine. At that point, it was more of a growing interest, not quite something he truly enjoyed. After tasting ten Burgundies at a wine event, he finally started to appreciate how special wine could be. He was hooked.
 
5
6
From there, the obsession grew. He left the finance business to work at a winery in San Francisco, California, where he learned the basics of winery work. From the start, the idea was to have his own winery. It seemed as if the odds were against him, however he felt much more comfortable working in the vineyards or in the winery than he ever did before. So he pushed on, believing that it would eventually work out somehow. Working in California, Ray Walker decided to do the best he could, especially at the small things which others preferred not to do. The thought was that at some point, he would be alone and the responsibility would be his own.
There wouldn't be someone to pass the job off to. Doing this gave him a great sense of confidence and allowed him to look at the tasks at hand with the respect it deserves. When the time came to take things more seriously and to think about grapes, one place continued to be at the forefront of his thoughts: Burgundy. As crazy as it seemed, he started looking into getting grapes in the Mecca of Pinot Noir. Luckily, his search yielded vineyards which he thought he would never have the honor to work with, along with an exceptional vintage to begin with, the worldwide acclaimed 2009.
 
7
8
While having no employees, no formal wine education and no executive consultant, he was left with nothing but blind intuition to lead all decisions for the wines. Knowing the basics while having a healthy amount of intuition can go a long way.

The entire family joined Ray in Nuits-Saint-Georges in 2010, where they have a home, a winery and a cave. California was left behind to continue what has since been an amazing journey.
 
 
9
10
The Vineyards

Chambertin vineyard
After nearly two thousand years of vine cultivation in Burgundy, there have been varying degrees of success from the parcels of the Côte d’Or. In fact, early on the Cistercian monks who inhabited this land made it their work over many centuries to study, reflect and understand what makes one parcel produce something unique, while the other did not. These early thoughts weren’t to suggest one was ‘better’ than the other. It was to understand the different expressions of the land, and by extension the different expressions of God. To listen to this voice, to understand clearly, they thought it best to identify and indeed organize the land to better receive this message.
 
11
12
This may not be the origin of the term terroir. Though, it certainly is a key element that placed Burgundy in the direction of the highest form of parcel specific expression in her wines. In the vineyards we source from, we are looking for the vineyard sites that have something unique and clear to speak of. We also prefer to work with older vines as we enjoy the concentration of flavors which come from low yielding vines. These vineyards are all located in the Côte de Nuits, where Pinot Noir (long ago spoken of as noirien) thrive due to the diversity of soil types
which lend an immense amount of complexity to the grapes, as well as a striking range of microclimates which prove to encourage grapes of unparalleled individuality. We source grapes from only Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards, which speak to a high level of quality, complexity and altogether have a unique story to tell. We choose to allow the vineyards to work as best as they know how. We believe it to be impossible to improve upon the quality of the grapes once they leave the vineyard. With this fact in mind, we focus on working closely with the growers to ensure the production of the vineyard displays the full potential of the site
 
13
14
The Cuverie

Cuverie at Maison Ilan
In our cuverie, we use only simple tools, just what we need to sort and process the fruit in a methodical and efficient manner, all wooden tanks made by Marc Grenier, one of the last foudriers (one who only makes wooden tanks) in Burgundy, hoses to move the wine from the tank to our barrels in the 250+ year old cave below our home and a wooden vertical basket press made in Beaune by E. Cherreau over 90 years ago. Fruit is brought in quite early in the day to ensure very cool fruit. We next use a fixed table to sort through the berries, keeping only the best.
 
15
16
If part of a cluster looks to be of lower quality or has damage, we will not use it. The grapes are then moved in small fruit cases to the destemmer where 100% of the stems will be discarded. While stems may be of great benefit, we prefer to focus purely on the fruit. The destemmed fruit exits into a small collecting bin that will be raised above the wooden tanks allowing us to fill the tanks easily. We then quickly cover the tanks to seal in the morning chill still on the berries. Pigeage begins once alcoholic fermentation is almost finished.
A very minimal amount of punch-downs are performed to ensure extraction levels remain low. It is our preference to have wines which are produced by less physical force, more patience, and we truly believe these practices encourage this goal. We have elected to use low amounts of sulfur at the beginning of this process. Once fermentation is finished, the grapes generally rest in tank for a week before we press. The tanks valves will be opened to allow the free run juice to exit into the hoses, filling the barrels in the cave below our home using gravity.
 
17
18
The remaining grapes and solids in the tanks will be pressed using our 90 year old press which works by slowly walking the handle around the press until the desired level of pressure is achieved. This is truly a method that requires more effort, however, these presses provide an enormous amount of precision. They are said to be superior in how gentle they are to the grapes while under pressure. The thought here is that we want to gently remove the juice without placing too much force on the grapes which may result in too much extraction of hard tannins by way or crushing seeds, etc.
The barrels used for our first vintage, 2009, were on average 20% new. Since 2010, we have decided to use only 2-3 year old used barrels, all from the Chassin cooperage as they are quite close to neutral in their expression. The emphasis here is that the beauty and individuality originates in the vineyards, not the cuverie. To encourage this diversity to be displayed, our methods of production are exactly the same for each wine, no matter if they are Grand Cru or Premier Cru. As we have different volumes for each cuvée, this would be impossible to match the percentage of new oak used unless we used either 0% or 100%. This is how we arrived at using 0% new oak.
 
19
20
Tastings are kept to a minimum level to ensure the wines are more protected from the oxidation that occurs from too many visits to one barrel. Throughout this process, we run analysis to make sure everything is going according to plan. Once malos are finished, we add sulfur to the barrels for protection of the wine. When the wines have been in barrel for around 16-18 months, we will begin bottling by hand.
 
 
21
22
The Chai

Chai at Maison Ilan
We aim to do as little as possible at this stage. We prefer to not rack our wines. The fine lees in the barrel provide food for the wine, and can create a greater depth of flavors over a period of time. The wines are allowed to take their time to begin and finish their malolactic fermentations. We believe that longer malos encourage a more gentle development. To this end, we do nothing to speed up this process. Topping up is performed by placing in marbles (in the past, winemakers used stones) which displaces more volume, decreasing the head space in the barrel. We feel this is the best way to go about protecting the wines as well as the integrity of each vineyard.
 
23
24
Tastings are kept to a minimum level to ensure the wines are more protected from the oxidation that occurs from too many visits to one barrel. Throughout this process, we run analysis to make sure everything is going according to plan. Once malos are finished, we add sulfur to the barrels for protection of the wine. When the wines have been in barrel for around 16-18 months, we will begin bottling by hand.
 
 
25
26
 
The Climats

Morey-Saint-Denis LeftRight

ZoomInZoomOut

Gevrey-Chambertin LeftRight

ZoomInZoomOut

The Wines
 
Vinification
 
Harvesting by hand
 
First sorting of the grapes in the vineyard, second on fixed table at the winery
 
100% destemming, jacks and tendrils sorted from destemmed fruit
 
No temperature control during fermentation, no pumpovers
 
Moderate SO2 addition, no cultured yeast, no chaptalization, no acidification
 
3 pigeages during maceration, in opened oak vats
 
Early malolactic fermentation, usually around March, depending on the vintage
 
Ageing
 
0% new oak used, all from the same cooper
 
French oak from the Jupille forest
 
Average of 18 months
 
Racking performed just once at bottling
 
Topping up is performed using only marbles
 
 
Bottling
 
No fining, no filtering
 
Additional sulphur added when required
 
27
28
The Wines
Chambertin Grand Cru
Total surface of the appellation: 13.22 ha
Average annual production: 1.8 pièce
First vintage produced: 2009
 
Exposure: East
Soil: clay-limestone marls
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 60 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Average annual yields: 39 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 12.75
Average pH: 3.3/3.6
 
29
30
The Wines
Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru Aux Charmes Hauts
Total surface of the appellation: 12.24 ha
Average annual production: 5 pièces
First vintage produced: 2009
 
Exposure: East
Soil: clay-limestone marls
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 50 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Average annual yields: 40 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 13.2
Average pH: 3.3/3.6
 
31
32
The Wines
Mazoyères-Chambertin Grand Cru
Total surface of the appellation: 1.72 ha
Average annual production: 4.2 pièces
First vintage produced: 2011
 
Exposure: East
Soil: clay-limestone and silts
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 45 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Average annual yields: 30 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 12.75
Average pH: 3.3/3.6
 
33
34
The Wines
Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Monts Luisants
Total surface of the appellation: 5.39 ha
Average annual production: 4.5 pièces
First vintage produced: 2010
 
Exposure: East
Sol : stony clay-limestone
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 45 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Average annual yields: 36 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 12.5
Average pH: 3.3/3.4
 
35
36
The Wines
Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Chaffots
Total surface of the appellation: 2.62 ha
Average annual production: 3.5 pièces
First vintage produced: 2009
 
Exposure: East
Soil: stony clay-limestone
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 35 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Average annual yields: 38 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 12.8
Average pH: 3.3/3.6
 
37
38
The Wines
Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Feusselottes
Total surface of the appellation: 4.40 ha
Average annual production: 0.9 pièce
First vintage produced: 2011
 
Exposure: East
Soil: clay-limestone and silts
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 75 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Average annual yields: 27 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 12.5
Average pH: 3.2/3.5
 
39
40
The Wines
Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Corbeaux
Total surface of the appellation: 3.21 ha
Average annual production: 1.5 pièce
First vintage produced: 2010
 
Exposure: East
Soil: clay-limestone
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 65 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Rendements annuels moyens : 32 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 12.75
Average pH: 3.3/3.6
 
41
42
The Wines
Volnay 1er Cru Les Robardelles
Total surface of the appellation: 2.94 ha
Average annual production: 3.5 pièces
First vintage produced: 2011
 
Exposure: East
Soil : marl limestone
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Average age of the vines: 45 years
 
Density of plantation: 9000 vines/ha
Pruning: Guyot
Average annual yields: 30 hl/ha
 
Average natural alcohol content: 12.5
Average pH: 3.4/3.6
 
43
44
Allocation
Maison Ilan's wines are produced in very limited quantities. We therefore encourage you to join our allocation list to be among the first to receive advance notice of upcoming wine releases and news from the winery.

(The information recorded in this form is exclusively intended for Maison Ilan and will not be passed on to any third parties)
You are * :
  * Required field
 
45
46
Contact

Chambertin, burning vine shoots
14, rue Porte Fermerot
21700 Nuits-Saint-Georges
FRANCE
Tél + 33 3 80 23 36 45

info@maisonilan.com

Directions
 
47
48
 
Blog Twitter Vimeo Facebook The Road to Burgundy
All Rights Reserved © 2014 Maison Ilan