Andrea Calek found his way into wine by accident yet cemented his morals within the industry early. His wines have a personality that will rub the most conservative of people the wrong way, sounding very similar to the story of the man himself.
Bad boys often have a reputation that is difficult to ignore and these days, what is more rebellious than making natural wine? If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, it would be fair to say a lot of things. Perhaps deserting the Czech army? Possibly going to jail? Fashioning a mohawk with a cigarette in hand? (Certainly in my mum’s eyes). Yet Andrea is a connoisseur in all of the above. The point is not to portray him as a rock star as his motive is not about breaking the rules, rather about asking the right questions. He challenges the systematic norm that the industrial and capitalist world feeds off. Or perhaps it was all just meant to be...
A chance encounter with Beaujolais’ natural wine godfathers meant Calek found a connection with a gang most would dream of meeting at this primal time in their wine life; Jean Foillard, Jean-Paul Thevenet, Guy Breton and Marcel Lapierre. He later spent two years studying natural and biodynamic oenology at an agriculture school in nearby Lyon. Andrea became a biodynamic consultant across Beaujolais, assisting wine growers to become more cohesive with nature, a resourcefulness that would act as merit to his own craft.
Calek eventually settled further south in Alba-La-Romaine, un petit village of 2000 years in age. The village is at the very southern end of the Northern Rhone within the Ardeche. The landscape is engraved with gorges and white limestone, warmed by latitude, freshened by altitude. It has come to light that Chardonnay and Viognier are exceptionally suited here.
The chosen wine for this month’s Borough Box is the ancestress of sparkling wine and has created a thirsty acceptance in drinkers today. ‘Blonde’ is a serious Pet Nat or Petillant Naturel made from equal parts of both aforementioned varieties and grown on his own four hectares. It is so serious, in fact, it is so much more about the power than it is about the fizz. This wine has an effervescence that oh-so-lightly trickles across the tongue. It brings with it a creamy, coating, almost limoncello-like richness to every other part of the inner cheek. It’s a wine that parallels the feeling of sitting by a coastal cliff in autumn, dried flowers littered between grass, just enough salt in the air and a waft of fresh peach to remind you that summer isn’t far away.
It’s not a Pet Nat to start your night but perhaps belongs somewhere towards the end. You know, the moment after dinner when you’re searching for something to drink with cheese? Something refreshing that would help to dissolve the crumbly solids of comte? Or rather to carry the weight of a melting piece of raclette draped over potato that still keeps your palate salivating for more. On deep reflection, this is a perfect winter Pet Nat. Like all of his wines, it was bottled without sulphur, so to ensure it’s freshness, open the bottle with friends and drink it to the bottom. That shouldn’t be too hard.
Want to try Andrea's wines for yourself? Sign up to the Borough Box HERE