Inevitably, 2020 will go down in history as a peculiar year. Beyond the obvious reasons, it is also the year in which we lost Lulu Peyraud, a joyous presence at Domaine Tempier who radiated a contagious joie de vivre through her last days at age 102. She is celebrated—along with her husband, Lucien, Tempier’s founder and godfather of the Bandol AOC—on the label of the Domaine’s 2020 Bandol rouge release. The vintage gave us perhaps the perfect wine to immortalize Lulu’s spirit, and if there were any doubts as to whether the heart and soul of Tempier could live on without her, the answer is a resounding yes. You’ll want to savor as many bottles as possible, as soon as possible, to take advantage of the intoxicating young fruit: wild blackberries and violets leap from the glass, while the surprisingly supple tannins encourage diving in headfirst before the wine bulks up and closes down for a period of hibernation. Less dense or concentrated than in 2019, it should still age exceptionally well, but it would be a crime not to uncork a few bottles in its vibrant youth—simply, as Lulu would say, pour le plaisir.
Of all of the domaines we represent, no other serves more as our cornerstone, stands more in the defense of terroir, and is more intricately interwoven with our own history, than that of the iconic Peyraud family of Domaine Tempier. When Lulu Tempier married Lucien Peyraud in 1936, her father gave them Domaine Tempier, a farm that had been in the family since 1834. Tasting a pre-phylloxera bottle of Tempier Bandol inspired Lucien to research the terroir extensively. By 1941, thanks to Lucien and neighboring vignerons, Bandol had its own A.O.C. Lucien will forever be celebrated as the Godfather of Bandol. Raising deep and structured wines of such refinement and longevity has made Domaine Tempier truly a grand cru de Provence.
Perhaps there is no region more closely aligned with the history to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant than Provence. Provence is where Richard Olney, an American ex-pat and friend of Alice Waters, lived, and introduced Kermit to the great producers of Provence, most importantly Domaine Tempier of Bandol. Kermit also spends upwards of half his year at his home in a small town just outside of Bandol.
Vitis vinifera first arrived in France via Provence, landing in the modern day port city of Marseille in the 6th century BC. The influence of terroir on Provençal wines goes well beyond soil types. The herbs from the pervasive scrubland, often referred to as garrigue, as well as the mistral—a cold, drying wind from the northwest that helps keep the vines free of disease—play a significant role in the final quality of the grapes. Two more elements—the seemingly ever-present sun and cooling saline breezes from the Mediterranean—lend their hand in creating a long growing season that result in grapes that are ripe but with good acidity.
Rosé is arguably the most well known type of wine from Provence, but the red wines, particularly from Bandol, possess a great depth of character and ability to age. The white wines of Cassis and Bandol offer complexity and ideal pairings for the sea-influenced cuisine. Mourvèdre reigns king for red grapes, and similar to the Languedoc and Rhône, Grenache, Cinsault, Marsanne, Clairette, Rolle, Ugni Blanc among many other grape varieties are planted.
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