Maison Ilan- no more professional reviews

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Maison Ilan- no more professional reviews

Post #1  Postby scamhi » August 14th 2012, 9:13am

From the newsletter today
"Wine is constantly moving, and as it turns out, so are people. With just these two factors in frame, it is increasingly clear that placing a label on a wine in the context of freeform tasting notes which serve to do nothing more than speak to how a wine used to be is of decreasing value to me, and I believe to those that actually buy, share and drink our wines. With this in mind, I will start to remove all professional commentary on our website, my blog relating to past and in my opinion expired reflections on my wines. The wines have moved on, so should the commentary.

Alright, now that the big part is over, I can get to the more minor part of this post. I've decided that our wines will not be offered for professional reviews for the foreseeable future. Please keep in mind, I have nothing but respect for those that are in this profession, I just see a different direction for our winery and for our specific wine culture. Any amateur that visits us is encouraged to write as many notes, impressions or thoughts of our wines as they like. Our hope is that this will encourage people that actually drink our wines to think of wine (our's and others) outside of numerical, emotionless, outdated and exclusive boundaries. There will continue to be notes on wines and there will always be countless variables which cannot be expressed or communicated to the reader, but if what we are left with is just the Mixed voices of our community, I'd say that we are moving in the right direction."

full article
http://blog.maison-ilan.com/2012/08/14/a-shift-in-commentary/#comments

I just don't understand the reasoning behind this pulling back from the professional wine community.
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Re: Maison Ilan- no more professional reviews

Post #2  Postby Tim Heaton » August 14th 2012, 9:22am

scamhi wrote:From the newsletter today
"Wine is constantly moving, and as it turns out, so are people. With just these two factors in frame, it is increasingly clear that placing a label on a wine in the context of freeform tasting notes which serve to do nothing more than speak to how a wine used to be is of decreasing value to me, and I believe to those that actually buy, share and drink our wines. With this in mind, I will start to remove all professional commentary on our website, my blog relating to past and in my opinion expired reflections on my wines. The wines have moved on, so should the commentary.

Alright, now that the big part is over, I can get to the more minor part of this post. I've decided that our wines will not be offered for professional reviews for the foreseeable future. Please keep in mind, I have nothing but respect for those that are in this profession, I just see a different direction for our winery and for our specific wine culture. Any amateur that visits us is encouraged to write as many notes, impressions or thoughts of our wines as they like. Our hope is that this will encourage people that actually drink our wines to think of wine (our's and others) outside of numerical, emotionless, outdated and exclusive boundaries. There will continue to be notes on wines and there will always be countless variables which cannot be expressed or communicated to the reader, but if what we are left with is just the Mixed voices of our community, I'd say that we are moving in the right direction."

full article
http://blog.maison-ilan.com/2012/08/14/a-shift-in-commentary/#comments

I just don't understand the reasoning behind this pulling back from the professional wine community.



I do, and I applaud the move [cheers.gif]
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Post #3  Postby Robert Panzer » August 14th 2012, 9:23am

I can understand the reasoning as detailed above, and compliment Ray on the bold move away from the reductionist fetish quality of numerical scores. He wants to replace it with broader wine lover created input, which is a move that I applaud. In brief, one could say that he is looking to replace the 'top down' model of the critics telling the consumer what to buy, and replace it with a 'bottom up' model, where wine lovers build their impressions themselves, and share that with one another.
It is my hope that this type of outlook spreads widely....
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Post #4  Postby ybarselah » August 14th 2012, 9:35am

from day one, Ray has demonstrated that he's going to be doing things differently. In Burgundy, any small variation will seem like a very bid deal. This doesn't surprise me one bit.
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Post #5  Postby Oliver McCrum » August 14th 2012, 9:39am

Not sending bottles to journalists is not the same as 'pulling back from the professional wine community.' I applaud his decision.
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Post #6  Postby NickC » August 14th 2012, 9:43am

ray's in a unique position to sell out his inventory without the aid of WA/BH/etc.
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Post #7  Postby Richard T r i m p i » August 14th 2012, 9:52am

I suspect a lot of wine producers would love to follow suit. Ray has had remarkable success and it appears that financial considerations are not currently constraining him in the same way they might be impacting other small/new producers, especially in less popular wine regions. Many producers are almost desperate for an opportunity to have their wines professionally reviewed (i.e.: don't forget the Pancho/Big J pay-to-play tempest). Positive recognition of that kind could, in some cases, "save the farm". It's a complement to Ray's hard work and passion that he can take this step.

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Post #8  Postby G. Greenbaum » August 14th 2012, 9:55am

The more I read about Ray and Ma. Ilan, the more respect I have for his vision. He has hit the nail on the head so to speak with regards to outdated crtiques, info and data points. Wine critics are becomming less important, certainly to me, but more & more to consumers. I especially like this:

Our hope is that this will encourage people that actually drink our wines to think of wine (our's and others) outside of numerical, emotionless, outdated and exclusive boundaries.


I hope I get a chance to make it back to Burgundy and visit Ray soon.
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Post #9  Postby Michael Lewis » August 14th 2012, 10:05am

I just hope that one day someone will open a bottle so I can finally try one of the wines, since I can't find them anywhere.
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Post #10  Postby Brian Newman » August 14th 2012, 10:23am

Michael,
I had no problem finding maison+ilan from a reputable source.
Here you go: http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/maison+ilan/1/usa
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Post #11  Postby Jay Miller » August 14th 2012, 10:24am

While not submitting wine for professional review is rare but nothing new (and I'm happy he's doing well enough that it need not be a consideration) I'm surprised that he's also removing his own observations on the wines. While I don't own any Maison Ilan that's something I've always found quite useful from other producers as no one else is likely to know them as well.

On the other hand I can see how it might be hard to be objective with something you've worked so hard on.
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Post #12  Postby Peter Chiu » August 14th 2012, 10:34am

I admire Ray's courage...... [cheers.gif]
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Post #13  Postby Vincent Fritzsche » August 14th 2012, 11:19am

I think it's a cool move. Good job Ray.
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Post #14  Postby Paul Jaouen » August 14th 2012, 11:35am

What!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How are we going to know if we like them? [scratch.gif]
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Post #15  Postby Michael Lewis » August 14th 2012, 11:35am

Brian Newman wrote:Michael,
I had no problem finding maison+ilan from a reputable source.
Here you go: http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/maison+ilan/1/usa


But these are all prearrivals. What if I want to taste one NOW? I am not very good at delayed gratification, which perhaps does not bode well for my young cellar. I revert back to my original position, which is that someone should open some bottles for my benefit.
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Post #16  Postby Loren Sonkin » August 14th 2012, 11:52am

I applaud Ray for following his vision. I suspect that Galloni, Meadows, et al., will still buy his wines ro taste with people who do. I wonder if Ray requests that no reviews be published if they would oblige him or not (although it does not sound like he made this request). Funny, isn't his picture in the most recent wine spectator? Maybe he didn't like it. neener Just kidding Ray, it was a nice shot. [cheers.gif]
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Post #17  Postby larry schaffer » August 14th 2012, 12:12pm

I too applaud what Ray is saying and doing . . .

He certainly is in a 'fortunate' position of having built up his mailing list and name recognition to the point where he really 'does not need' professional reviews to move inventory, and that is awesome. He is also fortunate enough to have many active CT folks open and try his wines, sharing their opinions with others, as well as having had many 'gatekeepers' on this site talk about his wines.

But let me be a 'devil's advocate' for a second here, and say that while Ray can do this now, many others would be 'challenged' to follow suit, regardless of what their stances are when it comes to 'professional reviewers'. I can attest to how difficult it is to have your wines 'noticed' among the sea of wines currently available, with new labels coming out of the woodwork each and every year. How many of these will be 'championed' by a local wine shop or a regular poster here or a CT user that many people follow?

So therefore, though many don't 'believe' in the concept of these reviewers, they do play an integral part of raising awareness, both positive and negative, to wines that otherwise may not have been noticed at all (and I can remember more than once someone jumping on here after RMP or WS or (fill in the blank) gave a positive review to a winery few had heard of) . . .

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Post #18  Postby Bruce Leiser_owitz » August 14th 2012, 12:31pm

Paul Jaouen wrote:What!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How are we going to know if we are supposed to like them?


Fixed.

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Post #19  Postby todd waldmann » August 14th 2012, 1:05pm

Excellent.

Cappellano. 'Nuff said.
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Post #20  Postby Kevin Shin » August 14th 2012, 1:46pm

Ray and Kevin can do no wrong. It was like that for AM as a critic once.
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Post #21  Postby Berry Crawford » August 14th 2012, 2:24pm

I can totally understand where Ray is comming from.

I know the whole points thing has been beaten to dealth here, but for a small producer with a loyal fanbase that trusts the wines, what is the actual utility?

Ive come to believe that if you really like the style/philosophy of a producer you are generally going to like the wines every year. All the reviews can do is drive prices up, so they are not really in the established consumers bennefit.

Like Larry mentions, a new and upcomming producer may bennefit from a good mention from a professional critic but in the brand new world of "social media" and wine message boards word of mouth marketing is probably at least as important. I know personally that every time I find a new producer its because 1) I took a chance on a new name at a wine shop or 2) someone on this board recommended it. CT reviews are good backup source.
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Re: Maison Ilan- no more professional reviews

Post #22  Postby scamhi » August 14th 2012, 2:27pm

Kevin Shin wrote:Ray and Kevin can do no wrong. It was like that for AM as a critic once.

[winner.gif]

I wonder how many that have commented have actually tasted the wine out of bottle.
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Post #23  Postby C Fu » August 14th 2012, 2:29pm

I think the only review I've seen so far was from the OC crowd and it was a "bad" bottle.
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Post #24  Postby Todd F r e n c h » August 14th 2012, 2:32pm

Charlie Fu wrote:I think the only review I've seen so far was from the OC crowd and it was a "bad" bottle.

Other than Saxon, we're not knowledgeable enough to be professionals, so it was not a 'professional review' [snort.gif]
Apparently I'm lazy, have a narrow agenda, and offer little in the way of content and substance (RMP)
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Post #25  Postby Berry Crawford » August 14th 2012, 2:41pm

scamhi wrote:
Kevin Shin wrote:Ray and Kevin can do no wrong. It was like that for AM as a critic once.

[winner.gif]

I wonder how many that have commented have actually tasted the wine out of bottle.


I have
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Post #26  Postby Corey Miller » August 14th 2012, 2:46pm

I'm going to take the other side of the argument here: how can it be bad for consumers to have access to as much information and as many opinions as possible? Why intentionally limit it?

I also don't understand why amateur tasting reports are to be encouraged while professional reports are not. What do amateurs do better than professionals do? Ray makes a lot of sound points about problems with the tasting note form, but all of these criticisms apply equally to amateurs writing notes as to professionals. Is the premise that amateurs will be less score-focused and less clinical/emotionless? I see no evidence for that. Some amateurs write great notes, some don't, some write clinically with little emotion, some effusively write only their emotional reaction, some use scores, some don't, some are experts who have experience tasting barrel samples, some are not, etc.

The only reason I care at all is that I find professional reviews useful. It would be great if I could taste all the wines in Burgundy every year before buying, but that's a practical impossibility. It would also be great if I could buy my full allocation of every cuvee ever year, but for me that's financially unrealistic. Professional reviews are one useful factor (although by no means a dispotitive one) in making buying decisions.
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Re: Maison Ilan- no more professional reviews

Post #27  Postby Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » August 14th 2012, 3:05pm

I have almost no faith , at this point, in "professional" tasters/reviews. They've proven-- to me-- to be almost worthless, though they can provide good anecdotes and up[dates on news from their regions. They mainly do barrel tasting, which is very subjective and personal...and can be influenced by which barrel one tastes from.

I have no idea what Ray's motivation is. If he really sells out everything he makes, he has no need to curry favor with the "professionals". So, it's not that gutsy of a move.

I'd rather hear a compendium of tasters' opinions rather than depend on any of the "known" pros' impressions. They've mislead me on whole vintages....and mislead others on whole scammers' "produce".

Of course everyone can't get to Burgundy to taste, so...we all need to depend on others to a degree. But, I'd much rather buy a known producer/wine in a vintage I have not tasted than depend on these guys' pronouncements.
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Post #28  Postby Brian G r a f s t r o m » August 14th 2012, 3:42pm

scamhi wrote:
Kevin Shin wrote:Ray and Kevin can do no wrong. It was like that for AM as a critic once.

[winner.gif]

I wonder how many that have commented have actually tasted the wine out of bottle.

This is not relevant. This thread is about an *idea*, not wine in a bottle.

Take your favorite winemaker -- any one of 'em --, or a winemaker you respect; now, pretend it was him or her that made this decision: does your reaction remain the same? I'm guessing it does not. If your reaction does remain the same, perhaps you could explain why (i.e.: talk about the idea, not the person, seeing as how this thread is about the idea).
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Post #29  Postby Tom Blach » August 14th 2012, 3:45pm

I'm guessing that Ray doesn't want his wines opened early for 'assessment'. A lot of people think they can do that; but almost no one can.
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Post #30  Postby Vincent Fritzsche » August 14th 2012, 3:46pm

scamhi wrote:
Kevin Shin wrote:Ray and Kevin can do no wrong. It was like that for AM as a critic once.

[winner.gif]

I wonder how many that have commented have actually tasted the wine out of bottle.


I don't think it's about that. People send wines to be rated in order to get scores that supposedly sell wine, or for professional validation, mostly the former. Ray is not going to the professional critics (the old way). Instead he's looking to open source buzz to differentiate his wine (the new way). He's not turning his back on the professional wine world. And it's not simply because he's in a darling phase and doesn't "need" scores to sell wine. Plenty of wineries have scores. So what? It's no solution. He's established something unique and different and the last thing he should do is get in line with everyone else and send off wine to get rated and discovered. My kids would ridicule that as 20th century behavior. So good for Ray.
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Post #31  Postby Scott Brunson » August 14th 2012, 4:59pm

BRAVO RAY
Hi everyone--I've been unforgivably absent most of the summer
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Post #32  Postby Ken V » August 14th 2012, 5:03pm

todd waldmann wrote:Excellent.

Cappellano. 'Nuff said.

Somewhat different. Teobaldo asked critics not to score his wines. He did not object to tasting notes.
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Post #33  Postby Brad England » August 14th 2012, 5:19pm

Todd F r e n c h wrote:
Charlie Fu wrote:I think the only review I've seen so far was from the OC crowd and it was a "bad" bottle.

Other than Saxon, we're not knowledgeable enough to be professionals, so it was not a 'professional review' [snort.gif]


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Re: Maison Ilan- no more professional reviews

Post #34  Postby Joe Benyak » August 14th 2012, 6:11pm

To everyone who has ever looked at this board, even once-
As people who are researching, buying, discussing and writing about wine online, we are an extremely small percentage of the wine consuming population. Because of this we can carry a large amount of influence for the people around us. Whether we like it or not, we are the ones people recommend for picking out a bottle at dinner or the person who is called on for recommendations before a party. Our friends do this because they trust us and our opinions, and the normal wine drinker doesn't trust the scores or even really care about them. They aren't looking for hints of lavender or gooseberry. "Screw the poetic tasting notes" our friends say. People just want to enjoy their bottle and have fun and those notes make it confusing, whether they come from amateurs or professional critics.

I'm sure when John Gilman comes by NSG as a guy who wants to taste the wines and not as a wine critic, he'd be welcome to come in to Ray's cave, taste the wines and write some notes for himself. He just can't score them and publish them. What really is the point when Ray is in a position where his wines speak for themselves and don't need a "great score from whoever". They manage to sell out through word of mouth from the people who matter most; the consumers. That is the way the wine industry should be not rely on scores. Ray is helping move toward this.

Our opinions and recommendations as serious wine drinkers actually matter and the scores and long free form tasting notes don't. If everyone on here tasted a wine and said it was absolutely amazing, but a critic scored it an 81, I would still try it. But if I asked if a wine was good and someone sent me a paragraph worth of descriptors talking about how it makes them feel as if they were rolling down a hill in Jura with bumble bees and flowers floating above them, bringing wafts of plum and sage into their nostrils, I would shake my head and tell them to chill out. If you really enjoy writing those kind of tasting notes, more power to you. But if you are the wine person in your social group and doing that, I'd hate to break it to you, but you are the reason why so many other people don't drink wine.
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Re: Maison Ilan- no more professional reviews

Post #35  Postby G. D y e r » August 14th 2012, 6:16pm

NickC wrote:ray's in a unique position to sell out his inventory without the aid of WA/BH/etc.


^^^This. He may even be in a position where critics can do more damage than good with some mediocre ratings.
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