The Wine: Chatons de Garde 2018
Andrea Calek Chatons de Garde 2018 is a red natural wine made from 100% Syrah grapes grown in Ardeche, France. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts, bottled unfined, unfiltered, no added sulfites.
The Producer: Andrea Calek
After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Andrea Calek was able to take a short vacation from the Czechoslovakian army. He went to France, liked it, tried to stay longer by coaxing a doctor to write for him a sick note, which he rationally entrusted to his mother to pass on to the army. Ashamed, she reported him a deserter. Charged with delinquency by France, he returned home for a few years later until he met a girl and was able to remain in France.
Never intending to work in wine, it was by chance that he encountered the groundbreaking, notorious Gang of Four vignerons (Lapierre, Thevenet, Foillard, and Breton), some of the first to put into practice the ideas of Jules Chauvet and Jacques Neauport. Here, it was the wines of Guy Breton or "Petit Max" that inspired him to alter his own destiny and follow in their steps. He did time at many wineries to start, and ended up in Provence, helping Domaine Hauvette move from organic to biodynamic viticulture. Eventually he landed in the Ardéche, learning from and working with Gerald Oustric of Le Mazel, one of the godfathers of so-called "natural" winemaking in the region.
Valvigniéres is home to many up and coming vignerons, like Oustric and Sylvain Bock, but Calek has established himself on an adjacent hillside, where he lives, famously, in a trailer in his vineyard. His painstaking viticulture combined with non-interventionist, laissez-faire vinification has produced some the purest expressions of Syrah and Grenache in Southern France. Growing other varietals, Calek actually makes other wines for himself in order to learn as much as he can about his particular terroir. But Syrah, Grenache and Carignan are his mainstays. He believes in carbonic maceration as long as it doesn't mask typicity and terroir. These are indeed stunning, even emotional expressions of a unique terroir, and they vary greatly year by year.
The Region: Ardeche