Introduction : the pioneering days
Lucien will go down in wine-making history as the creator and champion of Bandol wine, the king of the coast in the land of small-time pirate wines. His was a passionate, intensely busy life. He fought hundreds of battles, and his only regret was not being able to fight more. “It’s a hell of a job being a winegrower: you’d need to live your life over again to do it well”, he was heard to exclaim. Driven by their initiative and energy, Lucie and Lucien were involved in organising many events over the years. Locally, these included broaching of the barrel parties in their cellar for a host of VIPs, and the Confrérie de l’Ordre Illustre des Chevaliers de Méduse, a wine brotherhood revived in 1951 by the region’s winegrowers alongside Baron Henri de Rasque de Laval, proprietor of the Château Sainte-Roseline estate.
Further afield there were the Paris Paulées – originally a banquet hosted by estate owners for their workers at the end of the harvest, the Paulée was adopted by small winegrowers as an occasion to present wines that deserved recognition for their typicity – and the Hyères International Young Cinema Festival, founded in 1965 to promote the budding independent film genre cinéma d’auteur and help young directors make a name for themselves. This event – the brainchild of writer and Hyères film club coordinator Maurice Perisset – had national reach as the winning film was screened in a Paris cinema for three weeks. The festival spawned many imitators in the Bandol area.
Travel : Lucien’s syndicate and association responsibilities took him on numerous trips with the OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine ) throughout France and abroad, with the aim of broadening his practical knowledge of viticulture and winemaking.
The Ordre des Dames du Vin et de la Table : Lucie Peyraud was one of the first members of this women's order, founded in 1983, that is dedicated to promoting French wine through gastronomy, regional products and the arts of the table.
The sisterhood is made up of strong-minded professional women, including winemakers, restaurateurs, gastronomes, sommeliers and gold and silver artists, who share the same values and meet at a host of events to celebrate French products and expertise.
Chapter I : When Lucien met Lucie…
In the summer of 1936, Lucien Peyraud, an agricultural engineer from St-Etienne, near Lyon, met Lucie Tempier (known to all as Lulu) who came from a Marseille family with a leather and hide business. Lucien and Lucie –a match made in heaven? Lucien fulfilled a childhood dream and a lifelong passion for viticulture when the couple moved into and took over his parents-in-law’s wine estate, Domaine Tempier. Lucien was in love with his wife, with the newly-discovered Bandol terroir and with Mourvedre, the region’s traditional grape variety that he went on to revive and improve throughout his life. Mourvedre had been devastated by phylloxera in 1870 and, up until 1940, was replaced by more productive varieties like Aramon, Carignan and Alicante. The very determined Peyraud, a craftsman to the core, launched a crusade among his fellow winegrowers.
For years his motto was “Plant Mourvedre” (see the section ‘Our wines and vineyards – Cuvée Classique’), his aim being to restore Bandol wine's specific qualities and greatness. Mourvedre found its terroir of choice on the terraced hillsides (restanques) facing the sea. “Let the wine reflect the landscape,” as Lucien used to say. He very soon forged a friendship with the Swiss chemical engineer, André Roethlisberger, a born wine-taster and proprietor of Château Milhière. There he met Baron Le Roy, originator of the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) legislation, and Georges Chappaz, chief inspector and vice-chairman of the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine), the French AOC regulatory body. Fervent champions, like Lucien, of quality in appellation wines, they opened his eyes to the potential dormant in the Bandol vines. He devoted heart and soul to renovating his father-in-law’s vineyards and became the apostle of this emerging appellation, serving as elected chairman of the Bandol winegrowers’ syndicate for many years. After four decades of tireless work, Lucien saw his ambitions become a reality as Bandol joined the ranks of the world’s finest wines. Lulu is also a key figure in the estate’s history. Sharing Lucien’s passion, she became the Domaine’s number one sales ambassador. Enterprising by nature and blessed with good communication skills, she took their wines to restaurants all over France to be tasted and, consequently, played a large part in establishing the estate’s commercial success and Bandol’s reputation. Lulu’s great sense of hospitality and culinary talents have impressed every guest at the Domaine, while her typical Provençal recipes have earned her an enviable reputation across the Atlantic (see ‘Lulu’s recipes’). For Lulu and Lucien, the cream of the crop was their seven children.