Bichi is Back
We never anticipated there would be a day when the shop would be abuzz with excitement because of the arrival of the latest vintage of Mexican wines. But Bichi changed all of that.
Brothers Noel and Jair Tellez began making wines under the Bichi label several years ago. Prior to that, the family property, nestled in hills about 40 miles southeast of San Diego, was used for commercial wine production.
After trying a bottle of "natural" wine in Mexico City, Jair (a well known local chef) decided the family business should go in an entirely new direction.
That bottle was from French-Chilean natural winemaking star Antoine Luyt and so Jair reached out to him directly.
They obviously hit it off, as Antoine Luyt became their first winemaker. Antoine is now known for his work with the under appreciated Pais variety which so happens to be the same Missión grape that is found in Tecate. Louis-Antoine convinced Noel and Jair to seek out heirloom plantings of Missión, as he had done in Chile, and produce "vinos sin maquillaje" (wines without makeup) from them.
Part of the attraction for Antoine was the special terroir and climate that he recognized in Tecate. The elevation (almost 2000 feet) and proximity to the coast allow for a bit more moisture and rainfall in what is otherwise a giant swath of arid desert. This allows Bichi to dry farm their vineyards and also helps explain the survival of some very old vines.
Indeed some of the vines on the Tellez property date back to the 1880s when both Spanish and Italian rancheros planted aforementioned Missión (aka Pais) grapes, as well as Dolcetto and other varieties.
The wines are produced with very little intervention. They incorporate local traditions like fermenting and aging in tinaja-shaped cement pots. The wines are bright, fresh and generally light in bodied with all the complexity that old vines deliver. They have a distinct salty, mineral note and the new releases of current vintage (2019) are the best yet.
We have three of the latest releases today with superb pricing and hope you'll be tempted to grab a few bottles. ¡Viva la Mexico!
From the same mystery vineyard near Enseñada as the "No Sapiens", the Rosa is fermented and aged in stainless still, and bottle with just 20ppm of SO2 and no fining or filtrations. Medium bodied, dry, earthy and acid driven rosé.
El Pancho is Carinena from Senõr Camacho’s 80 year dry farmed vineyard at the foot of Cuchuma Mountains in Tecate. The old vine character comes through in the ripe fruit flavors are balanced by the natural high acidity. There is a touch of residual sugar that doesn't come off as sweetness but provides texture that pulls the wine together. Earthy with just a touch of brambly fruit, this is as easy and unruffled as the name suggests.
"No Sapiens" comes from a single, dry-farmed vineyard comprised of a mysterious grape variety that remains unidentified (Luis says it's Dolcetto, Noel says Carignan, no one knows). The grapes were harvested by hand, de-stemmed and fermented in 450L concrete tinajas. The wine was raised for 3 months in equal parts steel vat and older oak, and bottled without fining or filtration and only 10 ppm of added sulfur. This is the most linear of the Bichi wines, with crunchy dark fruit, ample vibrancy and structure. A wine that will get better with time in the bottle.