While on a cruise of the Med, my wife and I had the pleasure of stopping by Domaine Tempier while our ship was moored off Bandol, France. Bandol is arguably the epi-center of the world’s best rose. It is here where rose is often the primary wine made for vacationing Europeans who love to sit in their sidewalk cafes in August.
I have long admired Tempier’s roses – not cheap but more complex and drier than cheap copycats from the U.S. and Spain that are mere after-thoughts in large portfolios. Tempier didn’t disappoint me during my brief visit with Veronique Peyraud, one of several children involved in the operation owned by their parents since 1936. The property was in the family before then, but winemaking was interrupted by phylloxera in the 1940s. Still, some gnarled vines managed to survive and are more than 100 years old.
As good as the roses are, I was more surprised by the Domaine Tempier white blend of clairette, ugni blanc, bourboulenc and marsanne. You get the feeling this exquisite, dry wine will age gracefully for decades.
The estate’s flagship may be its Cuvee Classique, a red blend of mourvedre (75 percent), grenache, cinsault and carignan. It is incredibly dense and complex with dark fruit flavors and a rustic style with gritty tannins.
Domaine Tempier’s success is due largely to its southern facing vineyards, its soil and maritime winds, but also its particular winemaking standards. It does not fine or filter its wines. It is made from organically grown grapes and natural yeasts are used for fermentation. Its red wines are aged in large oak casks.