Domaine Tempier | Bandol
When Lucie “Lulu” Tempier married Lucien Peyraud in 1936, her father gave them Domaine Tempier as a wedding present, an active farm that had been in the family since 1834, near Le Plan du Castellet. It was only then that either the estate, or indeed the appellation of Bandol, started to make a name for itself.
Lucien, whilst not coming from an agricultural background, had a hankering to be a vignernon. He studied winemaking at Aix-en-Provence, and on his arrival at Tempier, set about improving the quality of both the viticulture and the winemaking. He held a deep-rooted belief that the Mourvèdre grape was the future of the appellation, being perfectly suited to the deep, well-drained soils and the arid climate. He encouraged the planting of it throughout the appellation, ceaselessly defending it against higher yielding varieties. In 1943 he became president of the local union of growers and later a member of the INAO. He is today justifiably considered to be the spiritual father of Bandol.
In 1960, he was joined by his two sons, Jean-Marie and François, who oversaw the running of the estate until they retired in 2000, handing over the reigns to the young and dynamic Daniel Ravier. He continues to run the estate in a similar fashion: whilst not certified as organic, the viticultural practices remain as natural as possible, following organic and occasionally biodynamic principles. Chemical fertilisers are eschewed, as are pesticides and weed-killers (only sulphur and Bordeaux Mixture are permitted). The soils are worked mechanically, which is no mean feat on the steep terraces of the appellation.
The Domaine Tempier Rosé has become something of a cult wine and when our allocation arrives in early summer, devotees of this age-worthy Provençal pink are quick to snaffle all they can before stocks vanish for another year. The wines overall are regarded as among the greats of France, bursting with originality and the longevity that comes from their undeniable structure. They can be enjoyed when young, but the real rewards come with full maturity after many years.