Lulu Peyraud, a French Wine Matriarch, Dies at 102

Lulu Peyraud, a French Wine Matriarch, Dies at 102

Mr. Peyraud worked in a variety of agriculture jobs and for his father-in-law’s leather firm until September 1939, when France declared war on Germany and he was called up for military service. After France’s swift defeat, Alphonse Tempier gave the young couple, who were now parents, Domaine Tempier, which was somewhat run-down and, like many farms, had no electricity, telephone or running water.

The Bandol region, a sort of amphitheater of hillside vineyards inland from the fishing port of Bandol, had once been recognized for its exceptional wines, but that ended in the mid-19th century. That was when phylloxera, a ravenous aphid that preyed on the roots of grapevines, arrived in Europe, destroying vineyards all over. Only after it was discovered that European vines could be grafted onto American rootstocks, which were immune to the aphid, could the vineyards be rebuilt.

Before phylloxera, the predominant red grape in the area was mourvèdre, which was late-ripening, low-yielding and difficult to farm. But the wines were recognized for their ability to age and improve. When it came time to replant the vineyards, many farmers chose instead higher-yielding, less labor-intensive varieties, resulting in innocuous wines.

Mr. Peyraud joined with a number of other vignerons in the area who were determined to reclaim Bandol’s reputation for top wines. By the end of 1941, the French wine authorities had officially recognized the Bandol appellation.

Owing to the paucity of mourvèdre in the area, Bandol reds were at first required to include only 10 percent mourvèdre in the blend. That proportion has steadily increased, in part because of Mr. Peyraud’s advocacy. Today, 50 percent is required.

Tempier began to acquire other vineyards as well. In 1943, Domaine Tempier released its first wines, 5,000 bottles of rosé. Electricity came in 1946 and a telephone in 1947.

In 1974, Mr. Peyraud stepped back, turning the vineyards and winemaking over to two sons, Jean-Marie and François, who themselves largely retired in 2000. The Peyraud family still oversees Tempier, but since 2000 Daniel Ravier has managed the estate and made the wine.

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