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Brothers Noel and Jair Tellez began making wines under the Bichi label several years ago. Prior to that the family property, located near the small, picturesque village of Tecate nestled in the hills about 40... Read More
Brothers Noel and Jair Tellez began making wines under the Bichi label several years ago. Prior to that the family property, located near the small, picturesque village of Tecate nestled in the hills about 40 miles southeast of San Diego, was used for commercial wine production. But 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 grape (Mission) 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 in 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.