“Face in the hot sun and feet in the water,” or so the old saw goes, describing the preferred environment for Mourvèdre. Today, a dwindling patchwork of densely planted, very old vineyards perseveres in the face of an expanding sea of densely planted, very new homes. These head-trained vines, planted in pure, deep sand, needn’t default to the conventional template of rusticity: tannic and often forbiddingly concentrated by the bayonet of saignée. Indeed, they’re ideal for a wine altogether different - elegant, darkly aromatic, supremely persistent, buoyant and soignée. Lest anyone infer the wine lacks grip or tension, rest assured they shall be greeted by the trademark Birichino “ninja tannins,” sitting coiled beneath the wine’s surface, ready to strike, only to vanish leaving behind but a shadow. Beginning in 2019, we have sourced old vine Mourvèdre from a “new,” very old vineyard planted c.1895, immediately adjacent to Evangelho Vineyard. This dry-farmed site produces a darker, more exotically pungent wine than that relied upon for previous vintages, suggesting black fruits, hothouse flowers and the subtle yet undeniable fragrance of marzipan found in many of Contra Costa’s best bottles. Whereas mourvèdre harvests in Bandol and San Benito typically extend well into October, this pre-dawn pick in 2020 was relatively typical for Contra Costa, in mid-August.