The Wine: No Sapiens 2017
Bichi No Sapiens comes from a single, dry-farmed vineyard comprised of a mysterious grape variety that remains unidentified. The farmer says it could be Dolcetto, Luyt thinks maybe Cariñena due to it's sharp acidity, no one is quite sure and perhaps it doesn't really matter as this wine shows its place beautifully. The head-pruned, own-rooted vines are planted close to the Pacific Ocean in the area of San Antonio de las Minas in Ensenada, Baja California.
The grapes were harvested by hand towards the end of August, de-stemmed and fermented in 450L concrete tinajas. The wine was aged for 3 months in equal parts stainless steel vat and older oak, bottled without fining or filtration, and only 10 ppm of added SO2. 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. Decant before serving.
The Producer: Bichi
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, hand harvested, fermented with native yeast, and aged in neutral barrel or vat so that the emphasis is on each wine’s Mexican terruño.
Thre Region: Baja California, Mexico
Mexico has a centuries-long history of winemaking that has mostly gone under the radar. Spanish conquistadores planted vines in the early 1500s, 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.