Thanks to the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Andréa 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. Alas she was ashamed and reported him a deserter, and thus France had to charge him with delinquency. Busted, back he went, presumably relieved it was a "Velvet" Revolution rather than, say, a French or Jacobin sort. A few years later he returned, met a girl, and was thereby able to remain in France.
Calek never intended to work in wine. It was by chance that he encountered the groundbreaking Beaujolais of the 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. In particular the wines of Guy Breton or "Petit Max" inspired him to alter his own destiny and follow in their footsteps. He did time at many wineries to start, and ended up in Provence, helping Domaine Hauvette move from organic to biodynamic viticulture. Eventually he ended up 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, Oustric himself having learned much from Jacques Neauport.
Currently, Calek possesses 5 hectares of limestone clay soil in Alba La Romaine, a lovely valley one bend in the river from Valvigniéres, what the Romans called Vallis Vinaria, ‘Valley of Wine’, because they thought the region, with its soils and its mostly Mediterranean climate, was the best place in Gaul for wine grapes. 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, painstakingly laissez-faire vinification has produced some the purest expressions of Syrah and Grenache in Southern France. He actually grows other varietals and 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 Chatons de Garde can be particularly, wait for it, velvety.
Organic. No sulfur added. Vegan. Wild yeast.