The Tempier family have owned vineyards in Bandol since 1834, although Domaine Tempier as we know it today was created only in 1940, upon the marriage of Lucie Tempier and Lucien Peyraud. Lucien Peyraud was instrumental not only in the birth of Domaine Tempier as we know it, but he was responsible, to a large extent, for the revival of Mourvèdre, at that time an almost forgotten variety, and for the creation of the Bandol appellation itself. All this enthusiasm followed his wedding, when Alphonse Tempier, Lucien's new father-in-law, presented him with an ancient bottle of their wine. It was a revelation; Lucien had found his purpose in life. He set about producing wines from the estate, which then had just 12 ha of Mourvèdre, and persuaded the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) that this variety should be the linchpin about which the new appellation, created on November 11th 1941, would turn.
During his time at Domaine Tempier, until his death in 1998, Lucien Peyraud oversaw more than fifty vintages, and shaped the estate into what it is today. He and Lucie purchased the La Tourtine vineyard in 1951, and then the Migoua vineyard in 1952. Both were rich in Mourvèdre, and allowed the pair to gradually increase the proportion, of Mourvèdre in the wines, with less and less dependence on other varieties such as Grenache. These sites, although initially used to bolster the single cuvée that was produced at that time, eventually became the sources for Domaine Tempier's special cuvées. These began to appear in 1968, first being the Cuvée Spéciale; this was a selection of up to 85% Mourvèdre from vineyards in the village of Le Plan du Castellet, plus Grenache from the Migoua vineyard. In 1969, however, Domaine Tempier began to release single vineyard bottlings, from the Migoua and La Tourtine vineyards. The Migoua vineyard is a 6.5 hectare site in Le Beausset-Vieux, planted mainly with Mourvèdre, with good amounts of Cinsaut and Grenache as well. La Tourtine is a 7 hectare site in Le Castellet, which is planted with vines in similar proportions to Migoua. From this vineyard comes two cuvées, named La Tourtine and Cabassaou. The latter cuvée, the name of which means "escarpment", is produced from a 1 hectare plot of Mourvèdre vines on the lower, steeper part of the vineyard. The straight Bandol cuvée, which is still a wine of quality despite creaming off of the best sites, and which can also be excellent value, is generally referred to as the Cuvée Classique. And no account of the wines of Domaine Tempier would be complete without mentioning the rosé, which accounts for approximately one third of the output; this is an attractive wine made from Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsaut by the saignée method, with just a short period of skin-contact. This is, in my freshly reaffirmed opinion, one of the world's most admirable rosés.
With the passing of Lucien his sons, Jean-Marie and François, currently run the domaine. They have maintained the property's reputation, mixing traditional practices with new. Some are unusual, such as the reluctance to prune or bottle in the presence of a new moon, but in general the vineyards are managed along straightforward organic means without fertiliser or other chemicals, with minimal use of sulphur. In the winery the grapes are fully destemmed before temperature-controlled fermentation, macerated for ten days or so, and the wine then spends up to eighteen months in large foudres where they also undergo malolactic. The end results are wines of interest which are, at all levels, worthy of bottle age. In the opinion of Remington Norman, author of Rhône Renaissance, "up to ten years for the lesser vintages, double or more for the great ones." My only hope is that with new blood at Domaine Tempier - in the form of winemaker Daniel Ravier, taken on in the absence of any descendants willing to take on the mantle - this quality is maintained. The signs so far seem to be good