So I opened a 2012 Cab Franc on Saturday, and it was simply amazing. It had the great gravelly component that I love about MACDONALD, and had tremendously pure Cab Franc character to it. It was not a big, lush monster, but certainly polished and well made, with really dusty tannins.
A quick search here didn’t show many hits. Just curious why there wasn’t more chatter. I thought the wines were very fairly priced ($80). I’ll be buying the Cab as well to let it sleep.
Good question Ian. I think one reason is that their principle production is mostly Cab Franc, which doesn’t have quite the Cache of Sauvignon. Otherwise, to me it seems like a classic case study in scores and attention from the best known critics. I’ve been buying their wines since the 2001 vintage, and always try to raise awareness about the quality of the wines (and the people) whenever appropriate. In fact, I attended their fall open house just a week ago, and was reminded once again just how good the wines are, and how “real” the guys are behind the Detert label.
Interesting that you bring up MacDonald, because they are cousins, and the two properties are adjacent, just south of Mondavi. Tom Garrett, the winemaker, told me he is now focusing 100% on Detert (having been a winemaker at several high profile Napa producers). Here’s a little bit of background:
Alan’s right… Cab Franc doesn’t have the following that Sauv does, which I probably why we don’t hear more about it. But for my $$, I don’t know that I can find a better Domestic Cab Franc.
I mentioned it in an older thread, but I had their '04 Cab Franc a few months ago… and it was good enough to make you believe in god. I have one bottle left, which I have no idea when I’ll open. I almost pulled an '06 from storage yesterday, but ultimately went in another direction.
Napa franc is my favorite varietal and I buy everything I can find. However, Detert’s old vines and terroir simply do not produce the style of franc that I prefer. I like lots of blueberry. Detert, as mentioned above, is not as fruit forward and does have a lot of “dust”. Just not my style, but most folks absolutely love it.
I knew the back story, and know how popular MACDONALD is, so was curious as to why Detert wasn’t hitting more radars. I actually texted Alex to get his insight of which of the two would drink better. Needless to say, great advice given!
If I read it right, I think they make slightly more Cab than CF? I just think they have been more known for CF as it’s the older vines of the estate.
I read about the East Block, I bet that’s great.
I’ve always wondered the same. I am a big fan of the Cab Francs and think their Cabs are great value for the money.
Graeme MacDonald was pointing out a ‘bench’ of gravely loam that ran from the Detert property throug the MacDonald property. Very interesting terroir.
It’s an interesting question. I always wonder why there isn’t more CF produced as a monovarietal or as a major component because I think it’s something that CA may be able to do quite well. Pam Starr does one as does Chappellet and both are usually excellent wines IMO. Montelena does it and so do a few others but I think it’s probably true that it doesn’t have the cachet of Cab Sauvignon or even the popularity of Merlot. But it is also a grape that seems to me, from my limited experience, to be more reflective of place than Cab Sauv. There’s a huge dif between the Cab Franc from Long Island, Washington’s Columbia Valley, Napa, and Bordeaux, not to mention Chinon. The dif is not nearly as pronounced between the Cab Sauvignons from those places.
I admit I haven’t had the Detert, but I’m curious now.
Get ready, more is coming. Maybe not as a mono-varietal all the time, but has a driver for blends. Guys like Bevan, Pott, Realm, Larkmead and others are doing some amazing things with Franc, and are going to help carve out a bigger niche since the wines are absolutely gorgeous… When Sinegal launches, they will have a Cab Franc, bold for a first release.
Not that anyone here looks at critics but WA has not scored Macdonald while giving Detert low 90’s. AG scored Macdonald in the mid 90’s vs. low 90’s for Detert. I don’t know about WS. Its just possible this has something to do with it.
Thanks for your thoughts on Detert. I have been on the fence waiting to hear more about them.
Detert are released at about 1/2 the price of MacDonald. You certainly would also consider the price difference when mulling the points difference?
More seriously, the plots are next to eachother. Right across the street from Monastery Block. If you value this location, 80 bucks is certainly a huge, relative bargain. Perhaps with time, the winemaking continues to refine further and you are locked into a low production, epic vineyard relationship. Seems like a no brainer. Oh, and they couldn’t be nicer.
LOL. I have no idea what “points” either gets. I just assumed that MacDonald had received some nice scores from someone to help them sell out as quickly as they seem to. Personally, I don’t consider points in my buying decisions; if anything it’s an inverse relationship for me.
I’m buying the wines because they are flat out great, and incredibly unique Napa wines. They have more in common with what is coming out of Bordeaux, but at prices I can easily afford. I love La Mission, but not at $500 a bottle…
I throw out the points on these, they do not tell the whole story (which is off the charts, and Alan did an amazing job of recapping).
Ian, Assuming we’re still talking about Detert, I’m not sure I would make a comparison to Bordeaux. This is still Napa, and I think the Detert wines are quintessential Napa, the way it should be. Not necessarily “throw back” Napa, but 21st Century Napa, if that makes sense. No one in Napa is going to be making La Mission any time soon (sadly).