Region: Tecate + Valle de Guadalupe < Baja California < Mexico
Grapes: Misión, Rosa del Peru, Tempranillo
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: biodynamic farming from dry-farmed estate vineyards, 100 year-old vines, sandy, granitic soil; harvested by hand, de-stemmed and fermented in 450L concrete ‘tinajas’ (amphora), with one tinaja of Tempranillo seeing some carbonic maceration; the juice then spends 3 months in equal parts steel vat and older oak before bottling without fining or filtration and only 10 ppm of added SO2; 378 cases; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Jair Téllez and Luis-Antoine Luyt
Jair Téllez, chef of the progressive Laja Restaurant in Ensenada, Mexico, is the guy behind Tecate-based Bichi, the only known natural winery in Mexico. A few years ago, he left his post as chef at a Top 50 San Pellegrino Restaurant to resurrect old vines in Baja and make delicious, authentically made wine from grapes suited to the climate, with awesome label art (bonus!). In the meantime he’s also opened a casual dining spot in Mexico City with an entirely natural wine list – one of the few in the entire country. Jair’s winemaking partner in crime is Luis-Antoine Luyt, pioneer of natural winemaking in Chile, so of course they’re working naturally: organic/biodynamic farming, native yeasts, and as of the 2015 vintage, no so2 on most cuvees. These are Mexican wines of the future! And in our opinion, some of the best wines made in Central America today.
This Tinto is a field blend of grapes from the various parcels and terruños that Bichi works with in both Tecate and Valle de Guadalupe. Like all of the Bichi wines, it gets a light-handed, old-school treatment (early pick, amphora and used barrels, nothing but minimal SO2 added at bottling) so despite coming from grapes raised in the hot Mexican desert, the wine manages to be bright, lifted and balanced – and still only 12.5% ABV. Also like most Bichi wines, there is some VA (volatile acidity) but it isn't overwhelming -- still if you're not a fan of high-acid reds, this one is probably not for you. Pleasantly rustic and crunchy, with a discernible chili pepper vibe (a Bichi trademark) this wine exudes bright cherry, spice, and rocks; we can’t think of a better wine for tacos, carnitas or a spicy black bean soup. For best results, give it a slight chill (20 minutes) and some air (pour out a glass and let it breathe, or decant) before enjoying.