France's strangest winemaker gives us gold
Andrea Calek is surely one of France's most exciting young winemakers, though he hardly looks the part. With his wild, unkempt hair and his torn, secondhand clothes, Calek is as unconventional as the wines he makes.
After defecting from the Czech Army in the 1980s and spending several years roaming around Europe, Calek returned to France (on his first visit, he was kicked out for vagrancy), where he fell under the influence of legendary Beaujolais producer Guy "Max" Breton.
Now a member of the natural-wine movement, Calek lives on a rented plot of land in the Southern Rhone and sleeps in a trailer among his vines.
One of his first commercial releases, "Blonde," is a nonvintage blend of Chardonnay and Viognier grapes that came out of much experimentation. Despite its humble beginnings, this gentle white sparkler has set drinkers abuzz with its category-defying deliciousness.
The crown cap sealing the bottle is no coincidence: Floral, yeasty and cloudy in the glass, with aromas of apricot, lavender and raw honey, "Blonde" has elements more akin to cider or farmhouse ale than wine.
Name aside, "Blonde" promises to win over wine and beer fans alike. A radical alternative to your tired bottle of summer fizz, it makes an ideal companion on your next picnic.
This "Blonde" does have more fun.