oops – maison ilan 2010 gevrey 1er corbeaux

Update 4.4.2014(1.4.2014)billn

Bottle number 1.

I’ve never been one who sets out to write things with the potential to annoy a producer, indeed, if I don’t like the wines of a certain domaine, I actively avoid visiting, preferring to visit, and write about, somebody who provides more interest and colour. Such is his ‘story’, Ray Walker certainly provides the interest.

It’s been well documented in various fora, and probably here too, that Ray had some issues with his small-cuvée Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Corbeaux in the 2010 vintage: Because it didn’t go through malolactic fermentation in its first year (as others in the cellar did), Ray chose the non-interventionist route and to let nature take its course. And take its course it did the following year. There was always likely to be some penalty to pay for this from an organoleptic standpoint, probably, but I guess Ray didn’t account for the flack that came his way when the shipping of his 2010s was delayed – certainly for those who (like me) elected to take the full mixed shipment when ready, rather than accept just part of the order. Such is life – one lives and learns. Anyway, I certainly didn’t bitch.

Having collected my mixed pack of 1ers in January, I waited a few days before opening the first Corbeaux, as it happened, together with some winemakers while checking out another producer’s wines – one who also makes ‘Corbeaux’. The packaging is rather well done on the Ilans, except that none of mine carried a back-label; you know, those administrative things with mandatory health warnings, alcohol levels, etcetera, etcetera! Still, I was taking these home, not doing the F&DA’s biddings – I simply didn’t care. One aspect of the packaging I did care about was the cork when extracted – it seemed rather short – it also had a significant piece (wine-end) missing. Very strange; the other piece wasn’t in the bottle. I trusted that a faulty cork had simply, and mistakenly, been slipped into the bottling line – if bottle #2 had been different, I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it. Yet, because of the presentation of that wine (note below) I anyway chose not to delay opening my second bottle (of only two).

As you will note from the pictures that follow the tasting-note, that second cork was also the same smaller, presumably cheaper, and unbranded (by the producer) article, an article that was rather crushed on one side so almost broken – presumably not inserted straight. It had also (almost) lost a chunk. This raised a question, was the first cork also badly inserted, pulled out, lost chunk removed and then re-inserted? I can honestly say that I’ve never seen such an appalling bit of corkery – at any price point. Either Ray, or the person he was supervising did a totally unsatisfactory job here. For comparison, the corks in the other Ilan cuvées are longer, darker, ‘maison’ and ‘cuvée’ branded, and seemingly perfectly inserted – for that reason, I have no qualms about those bottles.

Maybe in the end, Ray wasn’t planning to commercialise this but felt forced to by the complaints about deliveries(?) I anyway suggest, that those with the 2010 Corbeaux, drink them without too-much delay. For good order, I’ve emailed Ray about this. I’m sure he’ll chip-in…

2010 Maison Ilan, Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Les Corbeaux
The colour is rather lovely; bright and inviting – don’t mind if I do. The nose is a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde; switching between lovely, ripe fruit (more 09 in style) and flashes of something acetic and volatile. Fine texture – it’s really rather soft and silky. There’s an overall 09 style about this wine’s flavour too, delivering a beautiful ripeness and padding to the presentation, yet with traces of that aromatic volatility in the flavour too. A wine the currently delights but also disturbs. That volatile note is hardly going to improve – the wine didn’t lose it with 2 hours aeration. I’m pretty sure Ray would warm his cellar next time, at least if his 5 barrels of Chambertin showed no signs of malo 😉 Still I’ve no problem with the winemaking choices – bravo him – but the packaging is hardly designed to bring longevity to the product – only here do I have an issue – but I think it’s a big one…
Rebuy – No – Drink them quickly…

For comparison: 2010 Corbeaux bottle number 2 cork, with the cork from Ilan’s 2010 1er Cru Monts-Luisants for comparison…

There are 8 responses to “oops – maison ilan 2010 gevrey 1er corbeaux”

  1. Paul Clark1st April 2014 at 8:15 pmPermalink

    Bill, I hope this isn’t an April fools’ joke. Do you mind confirming the note and the date are unrelated? Cheers.

  2. Ray Walker1st April 2014 at 10:07 pmPermalink

    Hey Bill
    thank you for the thoughtful email, really kind of you. Sorry that you had a bad bottle. The wine was just bottled and I too have seen some variation, I did a good amount of sulphur at bottling hoping the bottles would be more for the longer haul. This has worked out to make a few bottles that perhaps came from the top or bottom to show a slight variation.

    That said, it is a really different wine. That amount of time in barrel is one that I’ve no other experience in so it is no surprise that it is a bit of an adventure so to speak.

    Regarding the corks, these were hand bottled using one of those drop the cork in, place the bottle beneath and pull the lever around type of deals. The regular bottling machine wasn’t thought of as the best thing for such a small cuvee. As you mentioned, my typical corks are from Corsica and are unbleached, no nothing and they are quite long. This is the issue, they were much too long to fit into the manual bottler so I made the decision to use the shorter corks, which were purchased locally.

    Of note, about the condition of the cork, the actual pressure point of the machine which give pressure on the cork when being driven into the bottle is of a smaller diameter that the cork itself. This can beat the topside of the cork up. However, I’ve no idea how the other side was damaged.

    When you are around next, it would be a pleasure to pass along a replacement bottle for you to try.

    Thank you again,

  3. Ray Walker1st April 2014 at 10:10 pmPermalink

    Back in again, I forgot to mention, this cuvée is the only wine to have the different corks, everything else is extra long Corsican, nothing bleached or otherwise.

  4. Ray Walker1st April 2014 at 10:30 pmPermalink

    Instead of asking Bill to let me edit my posts, I figured it would be more transparent to post here as well. There isn’t much fun in keeping stuff from Burgundy lovers.

    “Hey again Bill!
    Um, I think baby stuff and stress has finally cracked my noggin. So, I replied to my recollection and then said, ‘hell, I’ll go and try another and see for myself’. Well, I went and grabbed a bottle, pulled the cork and saw Maison Ilan 2010 Corbeaux on the cork. I believe that we did a short run with the hand corker before deciding that the hand corker wasn’t great. So, maybe 15 or so had the generic corks.

    You must have picked up before I did the regular bottling…”

    The rest of the bottles were done using the bottling machine, with their proper corks, etc.
    You know how I feel about giving tasting notes or impressions on my own wines, but I’d say that I get a touch of sulphur, but no va. Since we’ve tasted before, I of course trust you and can only imagine that we are tasting two different things due to the bottling variation I mentioned before.

    I’ll make sure to get two bottles over to you.

    And Bill, thank you for being straight in your impression of my wines, I sincerely appreciate it. 🙂



  5. JB2nd April 2014 at 7:48 amPermalink

    Anybody who buys things made by somebody who is doing on the job training gets what they deserve.

    • Ray Walker2nd April 2014 at 10:36 amPermalink

      Well shoot, it was just 11 or so bottles with the short corks, Bill had the only two that were delivered. Could I cheer you up with a good knock knock joke? 😉

  6. billn2nd April 2014 at 9:20 amPermalink

    Only for info.
    I’ve a bunch of ‘wow’, ‘wtf’, etcetera comments on this post. and basically they don’t get published – okay? Of-course, if you’ve something to actually contribute…

  7. pat2nd April 2014 at 3:53 pmPermalink

    So was it fifteen bottles or eleven? Are you truly certain no others were shipped?

    • billn2nd April 2014 at 5:03 pmPermalink

      Given your finger-pointing, I assume you have some bottles on order Pat, in which case you will surely be able to check the veracity of what Ray says…(?)
      Of-course, you could have 6 of those 12 (or 15…) 😉

  8. Ray Walker2nd April 2014 at 6:33 pmPermalink

    Hey Bill, I’m starting to detect more of a familiar tone here. Hmm…

    That said, let me be clear, I did not count the bottles that are still in the cave from the attempt at using the hand bottler. On top of this, if it is 11, 13, 15, or whatever, it makes no difference. I only sold around a small percentage (around 30%) of this wine, having preferred to keep the strong majority for myself.

    To make this even clearer for everyone, I knew this was a special wine that I didn’t have a lot of and decided I should keep most to drink. Crazy I guess, but hey, I loved the wine from the start.

    Now, as far as what has shipped of any vintage of Corbeaux from my doors, that would be precisely two bottles, the two that Bill has so kindly taken out of circulation in short order.

    To be sure, with the bottling of the 11s having been a bear, I wasn’t thinking about how many bottles had been bottled with a hand bottler. I’d forgotten about the trial run until I went to check in on a bottle myself (which I took from the cases ready to be shipped). I have a few things that I have tried that stay in my cave. I figured these were going to be less stressed than the bottles going through the machine, but I will now have a look at what rests in the cave.

    Now, I do have to say that by the thoughts/comments/theories that I have heard about my choices, practices, etc, are really interesting. I can’t say that I’ve seen this before…

    Am I wearing that kick me sign again? Lol!

    • billn2nd April 2014 at 7:17 pmPermalink

      Okay. The crowd are (completely and) unnecessarily out of order; you don’t need to see the comments I trashed. Plus Ray thinks I’m playing the crowd. No worries, move-on, comments are closed. I’d rather concentrate on the next bottle…

      NB: Clearly because I’d paid for them, and they were presented to me in a mixed case, I had assumed these were commercially ready bottles. If I’d known for a second that I was a)the only one with bottles, and b)the only one with ‘dodgy corks’ I’d have dealt with this privately. Such is life…

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