Producers We Love: Domaine Tempier
Amongst a sea of Provencal producers, Domaine Tempier stands above the rest. Headed by the iconic Peyraud family, the Tempier estate has become globally renowned for their world class wine production, which goes far beyond just simple Provencal rosé. For the true ‘grand cru de Provence,’ look no further than these unmatchable southern French wines.
It all started back in 1936, when Lucie ‘Lulu’ Tempier married Lucien Peyraud. Lulu’s father gifted the couple Domaine Tempier, a farm that had lived within the Tempier family for over 100 years, located just outside the village of Bandol. After tasting a bottle of pre-phylloxera wine from the farm, gifted to him by Lulu’s father, Lucien instantly became passionate for the region, heartset on discovering the unique terroirs of Bandol. Although many vineyards were ripping out their old vines to replace them with higher-producing varieties, Lucien couldn’t help but feel drawn to the region’s signature variety, Mourvedre. He worked with a group of local winemakers to pioneer the Bandol appellation, which officially became recognized as of 1941.
The couple went on to have seven children, with Lulu continuing to spearhead the family’s deep reputation for hospitality. Guests were consistently treated to home-cooked meals and a warm, classic Provencal welcome; even Alice Waters came to learn from Lulu’s meticulous craft! Lucien passed away in 1996, leaving the domaine to his two sons, Jean-Marie and Francois.
The Peyraud sons have since retired, passing the winemaking privilege onto Daniel Ravier, who continues to depict the same excellence and traditional style of the domaine. And as for Lulu? At 101 years old, she’s as spry as ever, still hosting visitors at her highly sought after table. Lucien’s legacy lives on through Bandol’s AOC requirements, which now require a 50% minimum of Mourvedre in all reds, a requirement which he deeply pioneered.
Located east of Marseille on the Mediterranean coast, Bandol’s vineyards are spread across eight different communes, dominated by clay and limestone soils. The region’s warm, Mediterranean climate, coupled with the above soil types, are extremely conducive to growing Mourvedre, as well as other late-ripening varieties, giving way to wines full of deep structure and ageability. Bandol boasts over 1,500 hectares of vines, most of which are planted on terraces, known locally as ‘restanques.’ The region experiences over 3,000 hours of sunlight per year!
Bandol Blanc is dominated by 60% Clairette, rounded out with Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc, and Marsanne, hand-harvested, destemmed, and cold soaked, fermented and aged in foudre for 8-10 months. The Bandol Rosé is Mourvedre dominant (55%), rounded out with 25% Grenache and 20% Cinsault, produced via 50/50 saignée and direct press methods. After malolactic fermentation, the wine ages half in steel and half in concrete for 7 months. Rouge is 75% Mourvedre, with small amounts of Grenache, Cinsault, and Carignan, fermented with native yeasts in steel and aged 18-20 months in oak, bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Tempier’s three single-vineyard expressions all come from clay-limestone soils, varied by altitude, soil composition details, and Mourvedre percentages. La Migoua sits at the highest altitude and boasts the least Mourvedre (50%) and highest Grenache of all three bottlings. The vineyard’s garrigue and forest surroundings give way to a meatier, soil-driven wine. Cabassaou is situated on lower hillsides, benefiting from ample sunlight and less intense winds. With 95% Mourvedre, this is by far the most powerful and intense cuvée. And in the middle? La Tourtine, which is found directly above Cabassaou. Fruit-forward with balanced tannins, this cuvée comprises 80% Mourvedre and equal parts Grenache and Cinsault (10%).