Bichi Is Back!
If there's any wine we get asked about year-round but only have for a few weeks, it's Bichi, an exciting project of Mexican wines led by Noel Téllez (pictured above).
Bichi, everyone's favorite natural wine from Mexico, is back! The name Bichi means "naked" in the native language of Sonora, where Noel's family is from, and the bottles, fittingly, feature naked luchadores. These are not only the first wines from Mexico many people have experienced, they are also some of the most consistently delicious natural wines around, so it's no surprise the demand is high. Though there's no need to fan the flames any further, I do think this lineups is one of the best I've tasted from Bichi. This is particularly impressive given the challenging 2019 vintage, where rain forced a later harvest. Noel had to make several passes at each vineyard to get grapes of even ripeness.
Of course, we don't have a lot to sell. The good news is there is enough of the 2018 "No Name" rose to go around, and it's very good. Believe me, I was skeptical seeing a back-vintage rose with zero sulfur — especially from Bichi, where part of the appeal is that things can get funky really fast. But no problems with the 2018 rose, it's a great way to get the Bichi style, and perfect for the warmer weather. The bad news is we have to put a one-bottle limit on "El Pancho" but those who are quick off the block will be rewarded.
Here's the full story on Bichi for those who are not familiar: Noel Téllez started Bichi with his brother Jair in 2014, but now runs it himself. They were both working for their father at his winery but started Bichi after meeting Louis-Antoine Luyt, a French ex-pat living in Chile who helped to champion natural Chilean wines, notably from old Misión grapes (planted by 16th- century Spanish missionaries) and the style called Pipeño.
With Luis-Antoine's guidance, Bichi has followed a similar path in finding old Misión vines and making energetic wines with nothing besides a small amount sulfur. The Bichi philosophy also runs counter to other wineries in the region, who focus on single grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, and yet ignore the unique qualities of Mexico's climate and terroir. Instead, Noel works with old vines and field blends that more fully capture a single vineyard and the idiosyncrasies of Tecate, Ensenada, and other areas in the Valle de Guadelupe, with varying influences from the granite soils, the mountains, and the Pacific Ocean.
By idiosyncrasies, I don't really mean that these wines are odd or challenging, however. The Bichi wines have proved to be universally adored over the past few years. That's not so surprising, given the history of the region. The Spanish government tried to stop wine production from this area in the 17th century, not long after missionaries and conquistadores planted vines there. The wines were so immediately successful there were fears they would outpace wines from Spain itself. Today, with Noel leading the way, the fears are more that we won't be able get enough for ourselves to drink. Already others are following his lead to help fill the demand, so if you don't get your thirst quenched today, stay tuned for more wines from Mexico.