How to Thwart Climate Change? Bandol’s Top Winemaker Switched to Biodynamics

How to Thwart Climate Change? Bandol’s Top Winemaker Switched to Biodynamics

May 25, 2023Dedalus Staff

How Daniel Ravier Is Guiding Tempier into the Future

Domaine Tempier, a renowned winery in the Bandol region of France, has long been recognized for its exceptional wines and the passionate individuals behind them. The estate's founders, Lucien and Lulu Peyraud, set a high standard for quality and craftsmanship. Since stepping into their exceedingly large shoes in 2000, Daniel Ravier has continued to build on the Peyraud family’s excellence, guiding the storied domaine into a new generation, with a new nemesis: climate change. One of the many strategies this great winemaker has used has been converting the vineyards from organic to biodynamic farming practices.

Who is Daniel Ravier?

When you’re working for a legend like Tempier, it’s almost certain that your name will be obscured in its shadow. But Daniel Ravier is a man worthy of a spotlight. 

After studying in the school of enology in Montpelier, he started “accidentally” working in Provence because of friends in the region. “I didn’t have a career plan,” he says in a conversation with Anthony Lynch. When he was tapped by the family to step into the daily management of the domaine in 2000, he knew its gargantuan reputation.

“When you work with Tempier, it makes you humble,” he says. “When you taste the wines that are 30-50 years old, you say, ‘Wow, I hope the wines we’re making last that long.’ They’re so balanced and fresh.”

Changing Climate

The changing climate might make it harder to achieve that same longevity. Across France, weather changes have pushed the harvest forward roughly 10 days over what they were before 1980, according to a study by Nasa and Harvard. It’s not just warmer temperatures that cause issues: increases in hail, drought, and other extreme weather events have been wreaking havoc on French winemakers for decades.

Daniel has said that Bandol is luckier than regions like Bordeaux and the Loire, but that the changing climate makes standard vineyard management decisions that much more significant — and potentially damaging. 

“It’s pretty hard to know what’s going to happen,” Daniel says. “Choosing the rootstock, choosing vines you are going to use, the way you are going to prune and drive the vines, all these details are very complex and you are making a bet on the future and saying ‘This is when the vines are going to reach this age we’re looking for.’ That’s probably the hardest for me.”

The Switch to Biodynamics

Like many winemakers worried about climate change, Daniel has made the switch to biodynamics. The move wasn’t a surprise for a domaine that was farmed organically long before it became a fad; Lucien Peyraud believed that organic farming was better for the vineyard and the wine.

Biodynamic and organic farming won’t reverse climate change, but it does help with climate protection. Vineyards that farm organically have lower emissions, sequester more carbon in their soils, and are more resilient to climate change. “For me, it was about making our soils a bit more lively and making better conditions for the vines to grow, but also it was a good means to balance the effect of global warming,” Daniel says of the decision to switch over in 2011. 

The switch also shows up in the bottle. “My feeling about wines coming from vines that are farmed biodynamically was that the wines were really more often balanced and with this sort of saltiness and freshness,” Daniel says. “It's amazing how in really hot climates, with biodynamic farming, the wines become fresher, livelier. It’s pretty phenomenal.”

Domaine Tempier Today and Tomorrow

Domaine Tempier's enduring legacy is a testament to the hard work, innovation, and commitment to quality that have been upheld by the Peyrauds and Daniel Ravier. Despite the challenges posed by climate change and the ever-evolving landscape of the wine industry, Ravier has successfully navigated these uncertainties, maintaining the exceptional reputation of Domaine Tempier's wines. His dedication to biodynamic farming practices, preserving the character of the wines, and his ability to adapt to changing conditions are proof that he is not just a worthy successor but also a forward-thinking leader.

As Domaine Tempier moves into the future, it is clear that the core values of quality and craftsmanship will remain at the heart of its operations. The story of this estate, its iconic founders, and the passionate individuals who have carried on its legacy, including Daniel Ravier, serve as an inspiration to wine enthusiasts and industry professionals alike. We, at Dedalus Wine, are proud to be a part of this rich history and look forward to continuing to share the exceptional wines of Domaine Tempier with you for years to come.

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