Andrea Calek “Babiole” 2012
This wine makes a clear statement that it matters. It is made as an antidote to the line of Northern Rhone reds that are made in an international style and so have lost sight of the unique content of the region. Its pricing is also an antidote to what you see from the more famous appellations. The methods used to fashion it are designed to emphasize the fundamental tension of the best Northern Rhone reds: vibrant, delicate fruit and deep game and savory. I found its voice compelling.
Precision of Purpose
Andrea Calek is an unusual wanderer who found himself itinerant in Europe after leaving the Czech army in the 1980’s. After discovering wine through the Beaujolais of Max Breton, Calek decided to look for the right piece of land to start his own project. He found it in the Ardeche, a larger section of the Northern Rhone that includes some famous appellations such as St. Joseph and Cornas. Calek’s vineyard is not part of these famous appellations, instead simply lying in the larger Ardeche, which is not typically associated with fine wine.
The soils in Calek’s 5 hectare vineyard are clay and limestone. Vineyard management is focused on biodiversity and minimal to no treatments. Vinification is without sulfur in resin tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine blends Syrah, Carignan and Grenache and sees some carbonic, though not to the point where the grape varieties are obscured in favour of bubble-gum fruit. Rather, the wine is quite varietal, fresh, and with lightness despite substantial tannins.
The wine evidences the truth that simple, precise focus is far more important than grandeur and ostentation.
$44 on the wine list at Webster’s Chicago (about $25 retail at various US outlets)