Andrea Calek's story leaves a lasting impression on most folks. A defector from the Czechoslovakian army in the 80s, he hung out in France until his mother reported him. When he later returned to his adopted country he had a brush with the sages of natural wine in Morgon and made his way to the Rhone's often overlooked region of the Ardeche. There, he honed his skills while working with Le Mazel's Gerald Oustric.
Notoriously, if charmingly, cagey about his methods ("it's the terroir, not me") he is, indeed, a highlight among the many talented producers to debut in the last decade. His first release was in 2007 but he doesn't label vintages or care about appellation standards. What he does do is make beautifully energetic wines. They are characteristically fresh, as they are bottled within a year of harvest.
Chatons de garde is syrah and blue portugese and, possibly grenache (again, cagey). It is alive and wet with savory, bruised fruit and a tease of fizz. Decanting is your choice, but it sure is fun to taste it change in the glass.
Calek's "Chatons de garde" is available at our shop, Maine & Loire (Wine Shop) at 63 Washington Ave in Portland.