External Reviews for Hecht Bannier & Faugères
Gregory Hecht and Francois Bannier's highly-promising young negotiant operation will include wines from Roussillon as well as the Languedoc (for which, please consult coverage earlier in this report). Their 2003 Cotes du Roussillon Villages (from Grenache and Carignan with a bit of Syrah and Mourvedre) represents a selection for the best half dozen districts and soils of Roussillon, matured mostly in larger-than-barrique barrels. Aromas of black cherry, soy, resin and herbs lead to a polished, indeed positively creamy palate loaded with cherry and plum, alluringly-complemented by mocha and brown spices, and tinged with pleasing iodine and toasted nut bitterness. Remarkably sappy and juicy not to mention polished for a 2003, this wine's long, heat-free finish will reel you right back in for more. It represents an outstanding value, and may well gain in complexity over the next several years.
The Hecht & Bannier 2005 Cotes du Roussillon Villages is 70% Grenache, with small components of Carignan, Syrah and Mourvedre, and was sourced from a variety of communes. If you don't claim to smell crushed stone or the pungent scrub of arid Catalan France in the nose of this wine, then you never will. In addition, intense blackberry and cassis as well as roasted game strongly suggest themselves. With a striking combination of creaminess of texture with insistent pungency and brightness - herbs, black pepper, crushed stone, and smoke all seem to make tactile contributions - this reaches every corner of the palate, then lays down a black-top of tar, cassis, herbal concentrate, and stones for a finish. It should be worth following for at least 2-3 years.
The 2005 Côtes du Roussillon Villages - from what Hecht and Bannier call "a perfect vintage for Roussillon" - pours forth aromas and juicy sumptuous profusion of ripe black raspberry and cassis, but smoke, pencil lead, salt, chalk, and wet stone are never any farther from the surface than is the mother rock in most of these vineyards. And for all of this wine's expansive richness, there is ample contrast from juniper and marjoram, as well as a delightfully cool character to its long finishing fruit, complemented by invigoratingly tart fruit skin and crushed stone. With tight but refined tannic underpinnings, this will be worth following for at least 4-5 more years.
The Hecht & Bannier 2006 Cotes du Roussillon Villages smells of cedar, coconut (from a significant proportion of new wood), cherry, marjoram, and smoke. Stimulating hints of cherry pit bitterness along with smoke, herbal pungency, and graphite and crushed stone add to the dynamic impression conveyed by unusually fresh fruit, leading to a long, lip-smacking finish. While this ultimately lacks quite the richness or density of its 2005 counterpart, I imagine it will be well worth cellaring for at least 3-4 years, and it must be borne in mind that a track record is only beginning to accumulate for the maturation of Hecht & Bannier's fine wines.
The Hecht & Bannier 2008 Cotes du Roussillon Villages displays the vibratory kinetics; abundance of vivacious fruit - yet here possessed of almost liqueur-like sweetness; and complexity of mineral elements that one has come to associate with the best wines of this vintage. Lily and heliotrope mingle with the aromas of ripe black raspberry, blackberry can cassis, then offer persistent inner-mouth allure as the sweet berry concentrate saturates the palate while mouthwatering salinity and schistic crushed-stone and peat-like smokiness build in intensity toward a finish the displays - for all of its richness - the remarkable sense of levity and vibrancy that is often attributed to the alleged miracle of chalky soils such as characterize Vingrau. This much though is sure: You don't have to believe in the efficacy of geological underpinnings to recognize the dazzling complexity and uncanny balance on display here. This phenomenal value should make for riveting entertainment over at least the next 5-7 years, and probably - though the track record is only now accumulating - for significantly longer.
The 2007 Cotes du Roussillon Villages from geologically diverse sites in a half dozen outstanding villages is composed primarily of Grenache, with smaller amounts of Carignan, Syrah, and Mourvedre. "The Carignan" from high elevation Belesta and Caramany "is key," maintains Hecht, because Grenache from schist in Maury (which make up about a quarter of the blend) can represent too much richness and blatant fruitiness. High-toned mint, cherry distillate, blackberry liqueur, and floral notes as if from some exotic orchid light up the nose and lead to a deeply rich, opulent palate. Like the corresponding 2007 Faugeres (reviewed in my Languedoc report), this shows more obvious sweetness of fruit and viscosity than previous renditions, yet ups the ante in all other departments as well, and the last thing that comes to mind here is over-ripeness or heaviness. On the contrary, there is terrific energy and lift, leading to a polished, savory, persistently stimulating finish.
Vibrant, rich and well-balanced with its intense red plum, cherry and mineral flavors. There's plenty of peppery seasoning as well, with a finish dominated by dark chocolate. This has the stuffing to age. Drink now through 2014.
Food Pairings for Hecht Bannier & Faugères
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