Andrea Calek


It’s not for nothing that French newspaper Libération refers to Andrea Calek as the punk star of the natural wine world.  If his rebellious coif and vintage Citroën CX don’t convince you that this man is about style and originality, then his wines surely will.

As a kid growing up in Bohemia, Andrea found out he could make wine by adding sugar to his grandmother’s redcurrant juice, and letting it ferment.  Winding up in southern France, fleeing military service and following love, he studied winemaking in Lyon and apprenticed with natural wine great Dominique Hauvette in Provence.  Since 2007, he’s been producing his own wines on parcels purchased from another mentor and fabulous winemaker, Gérald Oustric of nearby Domaine Le Mazel.  Located outside the picturesque village of Valvignères, in the hot, arid, and remote Ardèche, his wines reveal a unique terroir in enchanting, not to say poetic, ways.   He grows his grapes organically and adds absolutely no sulphites at any stage of the process.  But that’s not why he wants you drink his wines he says... drink them because you like them!  We couldn’t agree more.       

The Story

The Vintages

Blanc - white, 2013

If heaven is a place on earth, then you’ll find it in a glass of Andrea’s Blanc.  The Viognier and Chardonnay age for two years in Burgundy casks under the watchful eye of the winemaker who brings them together to form a match made... well... the Ardèche sometimes feels like heaven!  Rich and smooth in the mouth with a very slight and very refreshing touch of acidity, topped with gorgeous floral notes on the finish, this elegant wine incarnates pure pleasure.   

À toi nous - red, 2016

So light and easy to drink, you almost think you’re having a glass of fruit juice!  Indeed, this primeur features half direct press juice that nourishes its fancy-free attitude.  A late summer hailstorm ransacked Calek’s Grenache, such that the 2016 vintage is composed of 90% Syrah, and only a touch of the former.  This iteration presents a slightly higher acidity than previous years, but retains the lively and fresh hints of dark red fruit.  A perfect companion for when you bring out those duck rillettes and other hand-crafted charcuterie...   Bliss! 

Babiole - red, 2014

A babiole is an insignificant trinket.  Not this wine!  Unassuming and easily approachable, this Grenache and Syrah blend will seduce you with its ripe fruit and hint of spice.  Its minerality and subtle tannins beautifully express the hot and dry terroir of the Ardèche.  Like many natural wines, it has a slight but delectable bubbliness (you can carafe it if that’s not your thing) which makes it come alive in your mouth.  Throw your best pizza dough in the oven, open a Babiole, and you’ve got yourself a classy, easygoing evening.    

Chatons de garde - red, 2014

Guard dog kitten.  Don’t be fooled - behind the tame name lies a fierce Syrah.  Gracefully balanced between beautiful tangy blackberries and a silky texture, this is a sophisticated red that will beautifully accompany a hearty roast or a goat cheese soufflé.  This is a wine that ages gracefully and can easily be kept for a few years.  Whether you can resist the wait is another story...

Pénultième - red, 2014

Forget all of your negative experiences with sweet, cloying, or over-extracted conventional Merlots that have given the varietal a bad rap, and behold Calek’s sense of pure artistry.  The grapes are macerated for over a month followed by a year of barrel ageing, producing a smooth, textured, and sophisticated wine that will simply leave you saying “wow!”  You might think of this as the ultimate natural wine, though its name suggests Calek has another trick up his sleeve.  In the meantime, we’ll let him keep doing his thing as we marvel at this gem.