Why is this Wine so Yummy?
About Domaine Tempier by Kermit Lynch
When Lucie “Lulu” Tempier married Lucien Peyraud in 1936, her father gave them Domaine Tempier, an active farm that had been in the family since 1834, near Le Plan du Castellet, just outside the Mediterranean seaport village of Bandol. Tasting a pre-phylloxera bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol (a wedding gift from his father-in-law) inspired Lucien to research the terroir of Bandol extensively. Up until that point, old vineyards planted with Mourvèdre had been systematically replanted to higher-yielding varietals. However, more research not only showed its historical roots to the area, but the grape proved to be more resistant to oxidation, producing wines with great aging potential. By 1941, with the assistance of neighboring vignerons, Lucien worked with the I.N.A.O. (Institut National des Appellations d’Origines) to establish Bandol as its own A.O.C. Needless to say, large-scale replanting of Mourvèdre ensued, and Bandol now requires a fifty percent minimum in all reds. Lucien will forever be celebrated as the Godfather of Bandol, but also as the man who revived Mourvèdre to its former glory. Raising deep and structured wines of such refinement and longevity has made Domaine Tempier truly a grand cru de Provence.
Grapes & Making from the Domaine
The La Migoua area is renowned for its geological features and is often studied for its complex sediment patterns. The outcrops of rocks found in this area date back much further than those in the rest of the Bandol winegrowing area. The effect of one tectonic plate sinking beneath another (subduction) can actually be observed here. During the geological formation of the Alps, the lower layers folded themselves over the younger upper layers. The other unusual feature of this area is the huge geological fracture found in Val d’Arenc which is the reason for the outcrops of rock layers dating back to the Triassic age (200–250 million years ago). The vineyard’s parcels are intertwined among this wild landscape of scrubland and pine forest.
The La Migoua vineyard is on the outskirts of the village of Le Beausset, perched on the southern face of the Le Beausset-Vieux hill range on a chalk and clay terroir. Strata of 200 million year old Muschelkalk can be found here. The soil structure varies throughout the vineyard from stony to various colours of clay ranging from red to ochre to almost blue in some places. The terroir is in the form of a natural amphitheatre with an average altitude of 270m above sea level. Cuvée La Migoua is comprised of 50 to 65 % Mourvedre depending on the year. A significant amount of Cinsault is also grown in this vineyard, particularly on the south-facing hillside known as ‘La Louffe’. With a tendancy towards more animal notes than the estate’s other cuvées,La Migoua expresses great complexity. It is a wine with a delicate nose, excellent balance and a long ageing potential.
All grapes are harvested by hand. After de-stemming, grapes are fermented with natural yeast and vinified for 2 to 3 weeks in stainless steel. After maceration is finished and must is pressed, the wine is moved to oak foudres for malolactic fermentation. Aged in oak foudres (25 to 50 hl) for 18 to 20 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
The Vineyards of Domaine Tempier
The three single-vineyards of Domaine Tempier are: La Migoua, La Tourtine, and Cabassaou. All are made up of clay and limestone, but there are variations in each. La Migoua is made up of heterogeneous clay that varies in colour between red, ochre, and blue. At 270 meters, it sits at the highest altitude of all the vineyards. The parcel’s complex sedimentation is largely due to the subduction of a tectonic plate which has surfaced the oldest rock outcroppings in the whole of the appellation. Surrounded by garrigue and pine forest, the grapes translate to earthy, gamey wines. La Migoua has the smallest amount of Mourvèdre in the blend, with the highest percentage of Grenache of the three cuvées. La Tourtine sits just above Cabassaou. The soil here is more homogeneous, with rich clay. La Tourtine produces powerful, tannic wines with gorgeous fruit character. Since Cabassaou sits lower on this hillside, it is protected from the strength of the Mistral, enjoying temperate breezes and maximum sunshine. There is ripeness, density and power in these wines.
Tempier’s 2016 Vintage
“Every year we try to look for similarities and compare the new vintage with the previous ones. And every year we have to admit that the each one is unique and 2016 is no exception to the rule.
After the end of 2015 harvest it rained several times, but not a lot and that was followed by a mild, dry winter.
Spring was also dry; it rained several times but not very much, not enough to fill the water table. The weather was unusually cool, the atmospheric conditions were very good.
Summer came along; it was very dry and got hotter and hotter with a lot of wind until the harvest.
We had thought of not starting very early due to the cool conditions at the beginning of the season and late ripening, but then the hot and dry weather at the end of August made us start harvesting on August 26 for the rosé wine. There was some rain on Septembre 14, but it didn’t improve ripening or the plant’s health. The grapes were very healthy; we sought the best compromise between maturity and balance.
We must congratulate our teams who are required to adapt to more and more surprising harvesting conditions. Thanks to them we managed to harvest the two sites with maximum efficiency.
Indeed, it was the very first time we made wine from La Laidière whose vines we had been tending for a year. Despite the different orientation and soil, we noticed very little difference in maturity between the two sites : we started and finished at the same time, with the similar ripening gap between the vine varieties.
We expected a dramatic loss of volume due to lack of rain. In fact it is only 15% and we are amazed that the vines were able to withstand the drought. It seems our preliminary work on preparing the soil was worthwhile, along with a bountiful growth this year.
The fermenting stage is long: due to the drought there was little yeast on the grape skins.
The first tasting are promising. The wines are balanced thanks to the remarkable freshness for the sort of year we went trough. We’ll have to wait longer before making an announcement about the 2016 potentiel, which again is different from the former ones.”
Daniel RAVIER, Novemeber 2016
Where is Bandol?
Right on the coast between Marseille and Toulon.