Mexico has a centuries-long history of winemaking that has mostly gone under the radar. Spanish conquistadores planted vines in the early 1500’s, before both Chile and Argentina, and Baja California represents about 90% of the vines in the entire country due to the ideal climate and geography. Brothers Noel & Jair Tellez, with the help of Chilean (by way of Burgundy) winemaker Louis-Antoine Luyt, are producing amazingly fresh and energetic wines from very old, recently recovered vineyards of Misión (aka Listán Prieto), Rosa del Peru (aka Moscatel Negro), Tempranillo and Carinena, among other varieties. Bichi means “naked” in some parts of northern Mexico, and for Téllez and Luyt, it thus seemed like an appropriate name to give their new natural wine project.
Based at the Téllez family ranch in Tecate, just over the border from California, Bichi farms 10 hectares of their own Tecate vineyards biodynamically and collaborates with a growing family of organic farmers working vineyard land in Tecate and around Valle de Guadalupe. The majority of the vines are head-trained and all are dry-farmed, handharvested, fermented with native yeast, and aged in neutral barrel or vat so that the emphasis is on each wine’s Mexican terruño.
La Santa comes from centenarian, own-rooted Rosa del Peru (Moscatel Negro) vines grown at high elevation in Tecate. The grapes were hand-harvested, de-stemmed, and fermented without temperature control in 450L concrete tinajas with 45 days of maceration. The wine was then raised for 3 months in ½ stainless steel vats and ½ older barrels. A lively and vertical vin de soif, La Santa is almost rosé colored in the glass, delicately floral, with red and dark fruits and juicy acidity. A lovely red wine to serve chilled with charcuterie and cheeses.