Loren, I knew that. I didn’t know what scores either producer has received, just assumed MacDonald, being a “fresher face” on the scene might have gotten some attention from WA or Galloni; I only know about them from here.
I haven’t had the good fortune of trying the MacDonald wines, but given that they have similar terroir, and I think similar vineyard and winemaking philosophies, it wouldn’t surprise me that the wines have similarities. I agree that Detert is making quality Napa wines, and wines that are a little more restrained than many (which, I believe, allows that terroir your noting to exhibit itself), that’s why I buy and recommend them. In many ways, you should be able to think about both Detert and MacDonald in the same sense as Mondavi. They’ve been able to carve out some of the best components that used to go into the top Mondavi wines, farm them and make the wines the way they want to. In my mind that’s a pretty good pedigree.
Anyway, great topic, glad you started this thread!
Happy to help. Too many PC threads, figured we needed to talk about wine
The MACDONALD really has a rich core of that gravel. I think is actually grabs it a bit more than the Detert.
I’m seeing Alex tomorrow, I’ll report back again how the wine has evolved in the last 3 months.
Thank you for the dialogue on Detert and Cabernet Franc. Ian and Alan - thank you for your input here – much appreciated.
This is a long answer to some of the questions posed.
Detert has been “under the radar” for many years. Partly due to our small production, partly due to the fact that I’ve always had full time work at other wineries. We have a small, loyal following who fortunately buy the majority of what we produce.
Alan is correct that I left my last full time job in 2013 (I had been at Revana for 10 years). At Revana I was the general manager and managing winemaker (Heidi Barrett was there from 2003-2010 and Thomas Brown began consulting 2011 to present). With those duties it was a full time + job. I made Detert at Revana so time for winemaking wasn’t an issue but getting the word out and customer service were more of a challenge. I am fortunate to now have the time to focus on Detert. I am also a partner in and winemaker for Dakota Shy (there is another thread on that…).
The Detert vineyard is an ideal site for Cabernet Franc. It is at the apex of the alluvial fan that forms To Kalon - very deep gravel soils that are low in water holding capacity and low in organic nutrients. So naturally devigorating. The Cabernet Franc was originally planted in 1949. My great-grandmother purchased the property in 1953. That 1949 planting is thought to be the earliest planting of Cabernet Franc in Napa Valley.
My grandfather sold both our Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to Robert Mondavi (first at Charles Krug and then moved with Robert when he started Robert Mondavi winery in 1966). Robert loved the Cabernet Franc and kept convincing my grandfather to plant more. So we’ve had the unique claim-to-fame of having the oldest and largest planting of Cabernet Franc in Napa Valley.
In terms of case production, we historically have produced more Cabernet Franc than Cabernet Sauvignon. Typically about 175-200 cases of Cab Sauv and 250-300 cases of Cabernet Franc. I take all of the fruit from our 1.13 acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon. Historically Mondavi has purchased 80% of our Franc which goes into their Reserve Cab and now their To Kalon Cab. I have had 4 small sections within our two blocks of Cabernet Franc that I take for Detert. One 10-acre block (West Block) of Clone 1 Cabernet Franc and one 7 acre block (East Block) of our old-vine Detert Clone of Cabernet Franc that dates back to the original 1949 planting. We replanted the Clone 1 West block this year – which you can see in Alan’s photo. It had been in diminishing health and we were taking less and less fruit from it. For the next few years we will be just taking fruit from our old vine East Block. So, as was pointed out, we have had a handful of recent years where we made slightly more Cabernet Sauvignon than Cabernet Franc.
The replant is an exciting investment in the future for us. We have a range of great clones planted and some additional Cabernet Sauvignon. We are particularly excited about the expansion our planting of the Detert clone of Cabernet Franc. We also were fortunate to get cuttings of the old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon from our MacDonald cousins. Thrilled to be working with these heritage clones.
Cabernet Franc has been getting a lot of attention from my friends and peers in Napa Valley. So more great Cabernet Francs will be emerging. One key component to this is that people now recognize that great Cabernet Franc only comes from great sites. Cabernet Franc was too often an after thought and relegated to the poorer soils in vineyards. But on mediocre soils, Cabernet Franc will be mediocre. It’s too vigorous of a vine to produce great fruit on soils that are not really well drained and low in organic matter. In the past, those best sites were reserved for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our family was incredibly fortunate that Cabernet Franc was planted on our vineyard in 1949 - and then lucky that Robert Mondavi was there to embrace it.
There is a lot more to say but I think I’ve gone on enough.
Very happy to answer any more questions and appreciate the interest.
I’ll have to get some Detert wines… I’ve read about them for a long time but never had any. Cab Franc heads should also check out the Favia wines, they are absolutely killing it - the '12’s are fantastic.
+1 I just looked at my list in the Fall Shipping season thread and thought wow I am buying way too much wine, time to cut back. 4 minutes later I signed up for Detert’s Mailing list and researched Dakota Shy and Favia.
Damn you berserkers…
No doubt, this board gives me way too many reasons to join more and more mailing lists. Makes me reluctant to show the extent of it with the thread on the 2015 Fall Shipping Season. Because of all of the purchases arriving in the fall, in addition to a recent and incredible trip to Sonoma and Napa, I have been trying to cut back on the random store purchases. During my trip, I spent a few hours learning from Bruce Phillips at Vine Hill Ranch. Hearing about the history of the property and the similar story from this board with MacDonald, and now reading about Detert. Ok, I’m intrigued. So today I grab lunch and have a few minutes to kill. I walk into a local wine store by my office and guess what’s staring me in the face? The 2007 Detert Cab Franc, and its ~$50. So yes, of course I bought it…Does it ever end?
So I have to say that I didn’t know what to expect before visiting Detert last year. But then the '08 Detert CF completely rocked my california cab franc world. I look forward to tasting the '12. I would have loved to try out some East Block, but the bank account couldn’t swing the three-pack this fall.